‘Wish List’ Reservations

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOUR EDITORIAL wish list for “a minimum $4,000 income-tax incentive, with no sales-volume limit, for hybrid-electric and diesel-powered vehicles and a $10,000 incentive for electric vehicles” (see WAW — March '09, p.2).

But when I figured my 2008 taxes, I threw in a hypothetical $3,400 tax credit for a Ford Fusion hybrid. That should reduce the tax bill by $3,400, right? It only reduced my tax by $700, due to the dreaded alternative minimum tax. The AMT is eliminating the tax credit for precisely the people most likely to be motivated to spring for the hybrid.

Worse yet, each sale counts toward the volume limit, whether or not the buyer is able to recover the full credit.

So while you are lobbying to get the sales volume limit lifted, you might also want to ask that the credit be applied to tax liability after the AMT calculation. Otherwise, it doesn't get the job done.
Keith Gerlach
Dearborn, MI

I agree with your view of environmentalists and Californians. Nobody is forcing these people to buy cars.

But anyone promoting increases in the cost of any commodity, whether it's gasoline or bread, does not get my respect. I do not appreciate the government increasing taxes on any item just because it wants to discourage the purchase of a particular item. The government already is way too invasive in all of our lives. Please don't ask for more.
Terry Guess
Houston, TX

As you suggested, fuel must be taxed higher to achieve several goals. It would provide highway funding that's expected to go down if no action is taken.

It would provide an incentive for buyers to opt for a more fuel-efficient vehicle. And as a result of higher sales of efficient vehicles, it would promote research and development of even more advanced technologies.

But for some reason, like a sick child refusing to take the medicine that will make him better, no one is willing to administer or take this potion.
Jean Pierre Widmaier
Des Plaines, IL

This is a good article until the end, regarding government intervention. Concentrating on a company's strength is good, but asking the government to steer an industry is an excuse.

The Toyota Prius and Honda Insight did not build a following when gas was $4 a gallon. If you want to play in this segment, come up with a better vehicle.

We need lower taxes on diesel fuel and capital gains, as well as a tax rebate for fuel-efficient cars. The import tax should stay at fair value with the export tax. What would the government do with any additional tax revenue? Give it away.

You had your chance as an expert on a panel, yet came up with the same trendy ideas as Detroit's Big Three. That was a wasted opportunity.
Tu Pham
San Antonio

Eaton Term Trademarked

I AM WRITING YOU CONCERNING AN article titled “Hybrid Alternatives Explored” (see WAW — Jan. '09, p.14). Eaton's trademark “Hydraulic Launch Assist” is used in a generic manner to describe hydraulic hybrid vehicles.

Eaton first coined this term to refer to a particular hydraulic braking system developed to recapture energy during braking and reusing that energy to propel the vehicle. Eaton has used this term as its trademark for its product. The term should not be used in a generic manner to refer to other hydraulic hybrids.

If your magazine uses our trademark in any future articles, please reference this term as a trademark of Eaton Corp.
Daniel Kalka
Counsel-Intellectual Property
Eaton Corp.
Cleveland, OH

We want your feedback. Please email comments to Editor Drew Winter at dwinter@wardsauto.com. Include your name, city and state. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.