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Baby, You Can’t Drive My Car.

Just because we have never seen something before doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, but this is a first for us.

Ford is not only recalling 2013 Escapes equipped with 1.6-litre four-cylinder engines, Ford is telling drivers to stop driving the vehicle until it can be repaired.

Leaky or faulty fuel lines have caused three vehicle fires in which no one has been hurt. (And the irony of getting out of a burning vehicle named “Escape” is not lost on us.)

Ford is serious about not driving the Escape:

Ford says owners should call dealers to get the problem fixed. If parts aren’t available, dealers will drop off loaner cars for use until the repairs can be made. Once the parts arrive, it will take less than an hour for technicians to replace the fuel lines, Zwiebel said.

The recall affects only 11,800 vehicles bit still, when was the last time you saw a recall where the auto company will bring a loaner car to you?

In a related driving story, California is looking at adding a “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) tax.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco Bay area agency leading the discussions on the possible tax, said the plan would likely involve GPS-like devices installed in cars to keep track of the miles traveled by motorists, with low-income drivers excepted, the San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday.

Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said the plan for a vehicle miles traveled tax, or VMT, could take up to a decade to implement if it is embraced by the public.

“I don’t want to say it’s pie in the sky. A VMT charge is really an option for the future to be looked at and considered,” Rentschler said.

We have several issues with this. First, if the state is going to charge a tax based on the miles driven, they’d better drop the tax one pays on gasoline at the pump. We aren’t holding our breath for that to happen. Secondly, why should lower income people be exempt from this tax? Please, someone give us one good reason why the tax burden of one set of taxpayers should be shifted to another group?

But one commenter on the article named “FactsIsFacts” wrote:

Nonsense for any number of reasons. First, as one person pointed out, the costs of putting GPS systems in cars would outweigh the revenue generated – unless their secretly planning to use these to hand out speeding fines as well. Secondly, if they decided to use odometers to assess tax, then there would be widespread odometer fraud throughout California which would make used cars very undesirable. Then the mere psychological aspect of having a government issued ‘black box’ in your car would be far to unsavory for even Californians to stomach. Whoever came up with this brain fart of an idea is clearly not a terribly deep thinker.

Who said there would be a cost to the government to put GPS systems in cars?

As we reported back in May, 2011, most vehicles sold in the US now have “black boxes” on them to help in engineers of car companies. The National Highway Safety Administration is looking to have the black box devices made mandatory on all vehicles. The cost of the devices is added to the cost of the car to the consumer. How hard would it be to step up those black boxes to a GPS system? Not hard at all.

All California would have to do is to demand any new car sold in the state have a GPS device on it. That cost is passed onto the consumer.

If you don’t have a newer vehicle, that is easily solved as well. California requires a bi-annual smog inspection of vehicles. During the inspection process, the technician lifts the hood in order to get a reading of the GPS for you VMT tax bill. If he finds the device, he enters the miles driven and hands you a tax bill, payable in whatever schedule the state decides.

If you don’t have a device, he hands you a notice to get a device installed (at your cost, naturally) within a certain period of time or lose the tags to the car.

The state then pulls the exemptions for vehicles that are not required to pass emission tests (such as electric vehicles) and requires they come into the state inspection station as well.

It is that easy. Within 2 years you have every car in California running around with a little GPS device on it and at no cost to the state.

With more hybrids and electric cars on the road, this type of VMT tax seems inevitable. As gas use drops (or people stop driving because they cannot afford it) the tax revenues from the sale a gasoline will drop as well. States will look for other revenue sources and that will most likely include a VMT tax for all.



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