AutoNation CEO Says High Gas Prices Are Good For You, Automakers

Mike Jackson, Chairman and CEO of AutoNation (and thus America's number one car salesman), finally breaks taboo and utters the unthinkable: High gas prices are a good thing. "You have to tell the American people the truth," he says. "Energy costs are going to be higher." Oh Mike, Mike, Mike. Don't you know that the first rule of Car Club is that gas will always be cheap? And if it isn't, then you make it cheap, a-la Chrysler's "Let's Refuel America?" Mr. Jackson's poignant, thoughtful wacky rationale after the jump.

Jackson sees the latest fuel crisis as a two-pronged beast: On one hand, sustained higher fuel prices will drive consumers (and manufacturers) to more fuel-efficient vehicles, eventually reducing our consumption of oil and improving national security. On the other hand, high gas prices are dragging down the economy, wrecking his profits, and generally suck.

However, Jackson is taking a refreshingly long-term view of the situation, and concluding that the country, its citizens, and its businesses (his included) will be fundamentally better off in the end by learning to cope with high energy costs. Given that the OPEC supply wildcard has been supplanted by the much less predictable speculator wildcard this time around, plus China proving it has an appetite to match our own, a long-term view may be the only right answer.

But Jackson acknowledges that if energy prices change, all bets are off. "I'm a good car salesman," Mr. Jackson says. "If I have high gas prices and an open-minded consumer, it's very doable. There is a connection between their needs and what we have to offer them. If we have cheap gasoline, it's mission impossible."

In other words, take your medicine, kids. It doesn't taste good, but you'll feel better tomorrow. Now pardon me, but I'm off to drive my G-Wagen. The beatings begin in five, four, three...
[WSJ.com]