Electrified vehicles seemed to be everywhere during press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. They were front and center at many displays.
But anyone who stayed around for the show's public days may have noticed that those vehicles had been moved to the back of the displays, which then had more SUVs and pickups. After all, auto shows are designed to give the public what it wants to see, not what government visitors are looking forward to seeing.
Most electric cars get a $7,500 federal tax credit. In addition, many states offer their own incentives. Without those inducements, the small market for electrics would evaporate.
If federal and state governments want to encourage the use of more fuel-efficient vehicles, they need to take an additional approach.
It's time for a $5,000 tax incentive on diesel-powered passenger vehicles -- excluding commercial heavy-duty trucks.
The penetration of diesel passenger vehicles in Europe is huge. They are fuel-efficient and very popular.
If the United States is serious about improving the fuel efficiency of the American fleet, it should encourage the purchase of diesels as another alternative to electric vehicles and gasoline vehicles.
If there were federal tax incentives for buying diesel cars and light trucks, purchases of diesel-powered vehicles would skyrocket. Although there aren't a lot of choices today, more vehicles are in the pipeline and will be introduced by many companies in the next few years. A federal tax incentive would accelerate and expand those plans.
The Detroit 3 don't have a strong history of designing and building diesel vehicles. General Motors' U.S. passenger-car diesels were noisy and smoky and didn't have a great survival rate. Ford used diesels from BMW in vehicles that weren't designed for them, and those failed in the marketplace, too.
Today there are other choices for diesel vehicles in the United States, and the number of choices grows every year.
Americans deserve choices for fuel-efficient vehicles, and a federal tax incentive for diesels would even the playing field. After all, choice is what it's all about.