Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), called on the U.S. Congress to include in the economic stimulus package, that is now being debated, a tax credit to American car owners for actions they take to maximize the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. Schmatz pointed to a recently released Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that found Americans cite gasoline prices as the economic woe that most affects them.
"Car owners should undertake proper vehicle maintenance, which would be the most effective step in reducing fuel consumption by their vehicle," Schmatz told Congress.
The letter, addressed to both the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-NY and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus, D-MT highlighted information from the U.S. Department of Energy that "fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent."
"With gas prices at more than $3 per gallon in most parts of the country, any effort to reduce fuel costs for car owners will put more money into the pockets of Americans and maybe, more importantly, reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Schmatz said. "This will lead to reduced emissions of global warming gasses and ensure that vehicles are meeting federal and state emissions standards."
The provision recommended by AAIA would authorize the Department of the Treasury to work with the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop actions that could be undertaken by motorists to qualify for the credit. Examples listed in the letter include: changing air and fuel filters; replacing spark plugs; and any repairs necessary to turn off the vehicle malfunction indicators light that alerts motorists to an emissions-related problem.
"All of these actions would ultimately reduce gasoline consumption and improve the environment at the same time," Schmatz said.
AAIA is a Bethesda, MD-based association whose more than 23,000 member and affiliates manufacture, distribute and sell motor vehicle parts, accessories, service, tool, equipment, materials and supplies. Through its membership, AAIA represents more than 100,000 repair shops, parts stores and distribution outlets.