Bill Ford: Detroit needs predictability

A higher gas tax would lend stability to prices at the pump and enable automakers to plan better, says Ford's chairman.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By David Whitford, editor-at-large

Laguna Niguel, Calif. (Fortune) -- What does Bill Ford, CEO of the only Detroit Three automaker not likely to file for Chapter 11 anytime soon, have in common with power-company CEOs David Crane of NRG Energy and Jim Rogers of Duke Energy? A deep aversion to unpredictability.

That's why Crane and Rogers have been begging for carbon legislation for years - so they can make big investments in renewable energy. And it's why Ford (F, Fortune 500) says he wants a gasoline tax - so he can invest in smaller cars.

Ford told conferees at Fortune's Brainstorm: Green conference on Monday that when gas prices topped $3.50 a gallon last summer, a "sea change" occurred: suddenly everybody wanted smaller cars. But the seas shifted again just a few months later when gas prices fell.

"As a manufacturer, we don't like that," said Ford. "Our ability to forecast has been just horrible," said Ford. "If gas prices are gyrating wildly, we have no idea whether we're planning right. We'd much rather have a fairly predictable level to shoot for in gas prices. That's why I think a gas tax would work for us."

Ford was somewhat less candid on the last question he got from the conferees: Who will his 0-16 Detroit Lions choose in this year's NFL draft? "We've got first choice," he said, "and...time's up!"

Follow the Brainstorm: Green conference on Twitter at twitter.com/greenwombat and twitter.com/marcgunther. To top of page

Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.09 0.08 0.50%
Apple Inc 102.50 0.25 0.24%
Intel Corp 34.92 0.27 0.78%
Facebook Inc 74.82 0.96 1.31%
General Electric Co 25.98 -0.03 -0.12%
Data as of Aug 29
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,098.45 18.88 0.11%
Nasdaq 4,580.27 22.58 0.50%
S&P 500 2,003.37 6.63 0.33%
Treasuries 2.34 0.01 0.39%
Data as of 5:40am ET
More Galleries
8 must-have travel apps Whether you've got wanderlust or an airline grievance, here are some apps to pack onto your phone. More
Hot stocks: 10 record breaking companies The S&P 500 is trading at all-time highs, and many well-known businesses are leading the charge. Time to buy or sell? More
My biggest retirement mistake Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from. What they would do differently if they had another chance. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.