Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Tech helps keep models off gas-guzzler tax

  • Print

Automakers are using new technology to wean their performance models off the list subject to the dreaded U.S. federal gas-guzzler tax.

Advancing engine technology now is making it possible to produce cars that are more powerful but also more fuel-efficient -- enough to avoid being subject to the federal tax that tacks up between US$1,000 and $7,700 onto the price of new vehicles with very low mileage.

Some top industry executives forecast the tax’s demise within a few years.

"You will see that going away," said Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. "All the new engine technology will avoid the gas-guzzler tax."

The tax was aimed at discouraging people from buying the least efficient and most emission-spewing of cars. But automakers are using technologies such as variable valve timing, direct fuel injection, the ability to stop the engine at stoplights and other tweaks made possible by computers that now control power plants to squeeze more out of every drop of fuel.

Finding a way off the list makes good business sense: Those extra taxes can put a model at a competitive disadvantage if its rivals aren’t subject to it.

General Motors will have one less model on the list next year: It will stop using its high-end, 638-horsepower V-8 in the 2014 Corvette ZL1, which was subject to the tax. GM also announced that a new, more-efficient 450-horsepower V-8 will be the base engine for the iconic American sports car.

When that model is gone, the only GM vehicles subject to the tax will be the Cadillac CTS-V performance sedan, coupe and wagons that use the high-end V-8.

Excluding niche brands such as Rolls-Royce, Bugatti and Ferrari, here’s how other major car brands are faring:

Ford has worked its way off the list entirely. It had two models that were subject to the tax in the 2010 model year, but now technology has improved enough that it can produce a 662-horsepower V-8 for the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 that isn’t subject to the tax.

Chrysler Group

Only the models in its small-volume, exclusive SRT performance division are on the list. They include Dodge Challenger, Charger and Chrysler 300.

The number of models that fall under the tax has been reduced from 17 in the 2010 model year to eight for 2013. One reason for the reduction: killing its super-premium Maybach division.


It has eight models on the list for 2013, but adding efficient six- and eight-cylinder engines to its giant flagship, the 7 Series with eight-speed transmission, got that model kicked off the list. The M5 and M6 are still there, but they've improved enough that the amount of tax to be paid has been reduced, spokesman Dave Buchko said.

The brand’s speedy supercar, the R8, remains subject to the tax, but Audi has managed to free the S5 and S6. Audi says it sprang the 2013 S5 sport sedan off the list by replacing its V-8 with a more efficient turbocharged V-6. Likewise, the new 2013 S6 banished its 10-cylinder engine in favour of a V-8.

— USA Today

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Total Body Tune-Up: Farmer's Carry

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you think the Jets will win Game 4 on Wednesday?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google