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

Illustration for article titled 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...

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Rob Emslie

@dculberson: My guess is you don't live in the Los Angeles area. You draw a 5 mile radius around any location in urban, or suburban Los Angeles and you won't find any affordable housing, attractive or otherwise. A major problem for our working poor is the inability to find housing within a reasonable distance from gainful employment. There's also a real lack of efficient public transportation here.

So in answer to your question, some solutions may be;

Increased CNG-powered buses in Metro areas, and bus-only hours on certain roads

Housing subsidies for working class families so they CAN afford to live in an area where there are jobs

REAL fuel economy standards, rather than right-wing lip service

A manhattan project to drive a realistic alternative to a petroleum economy - when we in California had enough of air pollution getting worse, we enacted the strongest anti-pollution standards in the world. The air is still pretty bad here, but it's a hell of a lot better than it used to be.

I'm not saying that any of this is going to be easy, but taking such a simplistic view as "move closer to work" isn't a viable option for, probably 90% of the most affected of the population. And what about the families with two working parents who work in different directions? Should one quit their job and try and find a similar income closer to the spouses work? I don't think so.

Also, equating the purchase of gas to cigarettes is plain wrong. Gas is NOT a luxury, but a necessity for many people. I would guess that the gardeners I see working around the neighborhood (I mow my own lawn) would have something to say about that.

Lastly, I know that the urban centers in the Los Angeles area can not handle the increased population density you advocate. The current infrastructure (streets, police, sewage, etc) can barely support those living there now. We have had suburban sprawl for 100 years, and it is only getting faster these days.

So, where you live, your ideas may be valid, but not where I do.