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Nissan Leaf
Washington is looking to recoup lost revenue from EV drivers

Owners of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf (100-mile driving range) and the Tesla Roadster (211-mile driving range) have the advantage of traveling on America's roads without having to spend a penny on gasoline. And even though the Chevrolet Volt uses a gasoline engine when its battery pack is exhausted, some drivers have managed to average 1,000 miles between gas stops.

The State of Washington, however, isn't too keen on EV drivers skirting the state's gas tax, which helps to maintain the roads that EV drivers travel on every day. According to the Associated Press, Washington has a $5 billion dollar deficit, and hitting the pockets of EV owners is just one way to help close the gap. 

Washington's gas excise tax is one of the highest in the nation at 49.4 cents per gallon [PDF] -- 31 cents of the total is from the state, while the federal tax is 18.4 cents. Assuming that the average driver travels about 12,000 miles per year, a Nissan Leaf driver (EPA rated 99 mpg) would only be skipping out on $38 of the state's portion of gasoline excise tax. For a Chevrolet Volt driver (EPA rated 93 mpg on battery power), the tax revenue lost by the state would amount to $40.

Washington's proposed EV fee, however, would amount to $100 per year.

"Electric vehicles put just as much wear and tear on our roads as gas vehicles,” explained the bill's sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen. "This simply ensures that they contribute their fair share to the upkeep of our roads." 

"So the question is how do you account for those trends and begin to capture revenue that reflects the actual usage of the road?" said Republican state senator Dan Swecker. "Our state doesn't change very fast. But we thought the $100 fee was a place to start, so let's start there." 

Not surprisingly, EV owners aren't exactly thrilled with this proposed legislation. "The Legislature saw electric vehicles are coming and thought, why not just put a fee on them," quipped Dean West, a Nissan Leaf driver.

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RE: Remember...
By Sahrin on 4/25/2011 6:56:32 PM , Rating: 0
Since when is 'tax dodging' a good deed?

The intention of the gas tax is for users of roads to pay for the roads. It works out pretty well if everyone using the road uses fuel at similar rates; but if some people find out how to use the roads without fuel, they are stealing the service without paying for it.

I own a Hybrid, and I don't have a problem with paying higher taxes elsewhere. I want EV's to take over, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay our fair share to maintain the roads.

RE: Remember...
By SunAngel on 4/25/11, Rating: -1
RE: Remember...
By nolisi on 4/25/2011 7:17:17 PM , Rating: 5
we both drive the same miles to work, yet because your mpg is lower than mine you buy more gasoline than me. is that fair that you pay more gasoline tax than me and we drive the same mileage?


Cars that eat up more fuel to drive a mile are typically heavier vehicles, which applies increased wear and tear to the road. Same with people who speed, etc. So on that basis it is quite fair that people who use more gas pay more to maintain the roads. Now if you purchased a vehicle which gets worse mileage than an equivalent vehicle, either you purchased wrong, or you need to maintain your vehicle.

Either way you are still responsible for your choices. The only ones who get out of it are the EV owners. I own a hybrid and would take an EV if it were practical, but considering the state of Washington doesn't have an income tax, I would not be opposed to this fee even in the event I purchased an electric vehicle.

RE: Remember...
By nolisi on 4/25/2011 7:20:16 PM , Rating: 2
I would not be opposed to this fee even in the event I purchased an electric vehicle.

There is an exception to this- if the fee was so exorbitant that I ended up not saving money by going electric- then I would have a problem. In that case, I would stick with a gas vehicle.

RE: Remember...
By quiksilvr on 4/26/2011 9:05:54 AM , Rating: 4
It's all just a scam. I mean, how many EV vehicles can you possibly have in the state of Washington? Even at a million, they would get $100 million a year which wouldn't even dent the $5 billion deficit.

This is clearly oil lobbyists influence trying to get the people to turn away from EVs.

RE: Remember...
By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 11:51:08 AM , Rating: 2
Well if EVs are the money savers they are touted to be, then $100 isn't bad if you are going to save much more than that per year.

RE: Remember...
By Solandri on 4/26/2011 12:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
Alternately, if the state wants an extra $100/yr from EV owners, it would be a lot easier to just reduce the subsidies they are giving to EV buyers by $500-$1000.

RE: Remember...
By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 1:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. If my tax money is going towards paying for someone to purchase and EV, then why shouldn't they be helping me pay for road taxes? As it is without any type of fee outside fuel taxes to pay for roads, those of us who don't purchase EVs are not only donating tax money to the purchase of those vehicles but also footing the bill for the road repairs that those cars will drive on.

RE: Remember...
By quiksilvr on 4/27/2011 11:33:50 AM , Rating: 1
That isn't the point. It's subconsious psychological bullshit that will deter the consumers. People look at that tax and think: "If they are going to tax me $100 a year for using this car, what's next? Electricity tax? Battery insurance requirements? I'd rather just get a gas car."

RE: Remember...
By SunAngel on 4/25/11, Rating: 0
RE: Remember...
By themelon on 4/25/2011 11:51:04 PM , Rating: 2
Weight sometimes makes a difference. Like anything there are far more factors than just weight.

I get 17.5-19 MPG driving around town in my 2004 GMC 2500HD 6.6l turbo diesel pickup that weighs 7000lbs with nothing else in it. I get about 12 MPG pulling a 12000lb 5th wheel on the highway.

I get 15-16 MPG doing about the same type of driving in my 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4l gas with a weight of 3200lbs.

For me I use ~10% less fuel to move more than double the weight and ~35% more fuel to move 6x the weight. Weight will make a much more pronounced difference in MPG in city driving with a vehicle that is underpowered. So when looked at per pound of mass I am far more efficient in the heaver vehicle. Even with just myself in the truck it is about a wash for fuel costs.

Of course I could throw in the curve ball of a 2007 BMW F800S motorcycle that I have never seen less that 56MPG in it. It has far better gas mileage than any other bike I have had. My previous one was a 2003 Suzuki SV650s with 150cc's less displacement with low 40's.

To be fair I add in the comparison of my uncle's 2003 Chevy that is the same as my GMC, ext cab, short bed, 4wd except he has the 8.1l gas. He gets 9mpg no matter how he drives.

RE: Remember...
By slyck on 4/26/2011 1:25:23 AM , Rating: 5
Weight is THE big difference. It's the large trucks that do by far the most damage to the road.

RE: Remember...
By BZDTemp on 4/26/2011 3:33:57 AM , Rating: 4
Spot on.

The rule of thumb is road wear rises with axle weight by the POWER OF FOUR!

Rather than putting a tax on EV's they should reform the system and tax based on vehicle weight. This would also encourage the use of smaller vehicles regardless of the propulsion technology.

RE: Remember...
By mcnabney on 4/26/2011 9:31:39 AM , Rating: 2
You are both quite correct.

An SUV does far more than double the wear/tear to roads than an econobox that get twice the mileage. However, taxing gasoline has the benefit of having the vehicle operator pay the excise tax where they use it. It also allows different states to set different rates. By moving this tax away from the pump it will find itself in the weird tax issues that impact where people live, shop and work in border cities.

I don't know if it still exists, but there was once a gas-guzzler tax on the sale of new cars. It was a significant amount, a couple thousand dollars or more, on the larger SUVs and sports-cars.

RE: Remember...
By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 2:18:15 PM , Rating: 2
Well I don't now about the SUV doing far more damage because looking up vehicle weights the Chevy Tahoe is listed at about 4500 pounds, Ford F150 at about 4600 pounds and yet the Nissan Leaf weighs about 3400 pounds and the Nissan Altima weighs about 3300 pounds.

The F150 only weighs 30% more than the Altima, yet most F150s will have tires that are wider than those of the Altima which will offset the wear and tear on the highway due to weight difference. If you look at the tires on the Leaf that are even more narrow that stock tires on an Altima the wear and tear difference between the Leaf and F150 would be even less. Put a set of extra wide mudders on the F150 and you may even bring it down below the wear and tear inflicted on the highways by the Leaf.

Too truly make the road taxes equal among drivers based on the wear and tear they do to the roads would be far too complicated to figure out on an individual basis, because you would also need to figure in driving habits like do they accelerate and decelerate quickly or slowly, do they ease into a curve of throw their vehicle hard into a curve, how fast do they make turns at intersections, ect. All of that effects the wear and tear on highways.

I am used to driving on gravel roads so I actually do take off and stop rather slowly even when on pavement, so my F150 would probably do less damage to the highway than the kids driving the tricked out economy cars that jackrabbit at every stop light.

Also you need to remember that it isn't only the excise tax on gasoline that pays for roads, but on tires also. Large tractor trailer tires have a huge tax on them just for this purpose so they probably do pay more than most cars do for highway maintenance.

RE: Remember...
By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 2:23:59 PM , Rating: 2
Oh and for the heavier tractor trailers I forgot this tax also.

Federal highway use tax

This tax applies to highway motor vehicles having taxable gross weights of 55,000 pounds or more, including trucks, truck tractors and buses. Generally, vans, pickup trucks, panel trucks and the like are not subject to this tax. The tax does not apply to vehicles that are used for 5,000 miles or less (7,500 miles or less for agricultural vehicles) on public highways during a tax period. Tax for these vehicles is termed "suspended". The mileage use limit applies to the total mileage a vehicle is used during a tax period, regardless of the number of owners. The normal tax period runs from July 1 to June 30.

RE: Remember...
By DarthKaos on 4/26/2011 9:49:03 AM , Rating: 1
That is a good idea. If all vehicles had RFID chips built into them maybe near the gas cap, all pumps could automatically be told what kind of car you have and then place the appropriate type of tax on the gas you are getting. Of course there are security issues but that could be overcome with the proper integration of the VIN number of the car and the RFID.

RE: Remember...
By NaughtyGeek on 4/26/2011 11:23:48 AM , Rating: 2
Why on earth would you want to risk the privacy invasion that rfid invites when you could simply install scales at the pump to accomplish the same thing?

RE: Remember...
By Solandri on 4/26/2011 12:12:23 PM , Rating: 4
Too much trouble for too little return. Nearly all the damage to our roads and highways comes from semi-trailer trucks. Just ignore cars and tax diesel a lot higher.

If we'd had a more sensible road tax proportional to damage inflicted from the beginning, most of our long-haul rail-based transportation infrastructure might have still been intact. Basically, the trucking industry has been subsidized by fuel taxes on passenger cars for decades, which has killed off our rail system.

RE: Remember...
By augiem on 4/26/2011 12:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
Say hello to higher prices at retail! The shippers will pass the taxes on as will retailers.

RE: Remember...
By YashBudini on 4/26/2011 10:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
The shippers will pass the taxes on as will retailers.

From that viewpoint one could argue that there's no such thing as a corporate tax, but competition also factors into price. Perhaps overall this would promote physically closer partnerships?

RE: Remember...
By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 1:45:55 PM , Rating: 2
Umm, why at the pump? Better to just tax them when you renew the plates and add in recording the mileage each time to know the tax amount.

RE: Remember...
By Spuke on 4/26/2011 12:46:12 PM , Rating: 3
The rule of thumb is road wear rises with axle weight by the POWER OF FOUR!

Rather than putting a tax on EV's they should reform the system and tax based on vehicle weight.
Axle weight, not vehicle weight has been shown to increase road wear by the power of four. Since we're on this subject, small tires have been shown to increase wear due to smaller contact patches which focuses more weight in a smaller area than larger tires.

RE: Remember...
By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 1:51:08 PM , Rating: 3
Also you need to remember that the EVs are heavier than their gas powered counterparts of the same size, so EVs would be taxed at higher rates under this taxing scheme which to cover road wear they should be. So you would have to tax by the mile driven and weight, not gallons of fuel used.

RE: Remember...
By Spuke on 4/26/2011 3:28:47 PM , Rating: 2
So you would have to tax by the mile driven and weight, not gallons of fuel used.
I can dig this. I would substitute axle weight with vehicle weight.

RE: Remember...
By nafhan on 4/26/2011 9:38:44 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, distance driven plays a pretty big part, too...
A big truck that gets driven to the dump twice a month isn't going to put much wear on the roads (and yes, this happens).

That's the good thing about a gas tax, it essentially takes weight and distance driven into account. If we continue to shift away from gas powered vehicles, they are going to need to find a way to pay for road maintenance. A flat $100 tax on EV owners, probably isn't it, though.

RE: Remember...
By YashBudini on 4/26/2011 10:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
they are going to need to find a way to pay for road maintenance.

An annual inspection and the car's ECU of the miles driven should provide enough info.

10,000 miles divided by 25 MPG gives us about 400 gallons of gas used. Would the gas tax on 400 gallons be higher than $100? Most likely much more.

RE: Remember...
By themelon on 4/25/11, Rating: 0
RE: Remember...
By WxDude10 on 4/26/2011 9:50:59 AM , Rating: 2
I would agree with you that a consumption tax based on the number of miles driven in conjunction with the removal of the gas tax would be fair.

I COMPLETELY disagree with adding a GPS/transponder to the cars to collect that information. I know that ALL cars, and I would think that all states (but I could be wrong) already have all the necessary pieces in place to collect this information. They are called Odometers and Yearly Inspections. The mileage on the car is recorded off of the odometer each year and you receive a bill based on the miles driven. No need for new mandated equipment to be added to a vehicle.

GPS/transponders are just another means to allow your movements to be tracked. If they need the mileage, it is already there in the odometer. If they need the GPS for it, then there is something else going on.

RE: Remember...
By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 2:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure about the others but Kentucky hasn't had yearly vehicle inspections since the late 70s or early 80s.

RE: Remember...
By Denigrate on 4/26/2011 10:21:08 AM , Rating: 2
Normal everyday vehicles don't damage the road in a meaningful way. It's the Tractor Trailer truckers hauling heavy loads that do the real damage to the roads.

RE: Remember...
By FITCamaro on 4/25/2011 8:14:44 PM , Rating: 4
when you watching OTA tv your stealing from the cable and telephone company. why? your getting the same programming free when cable and teleco customer have to pay for it.

100% untrue.

Advertising pays for the shows on broadcast television. Not subscription fees from cable and satellite service. In reality, those who pay for cable are paying twice, not those who don't stealing it. Once when they pay the fee the station charges the cable or satellite company to carry the station. And again when they watch the commercials.

If you're going to use analogies, at least be somewhat accurate.

RE: Remember...
By SunAngel on 4/25/2011 9:24:36 PM , Rating: 2
lol. you caught me. i thought about that just after i posted. i was hoping no one would have noticed. i forgot about advertising since i don't buy all the junk that is advertised on a tv screen. hum, maybe i'm getting a free ride.

RE: Remember...
By kaoken on 4/25/2011 10:09:49 PM , Rating: 2
Don't worry you are. It's subliminal.

RE: Remember...
By The Raven on 4/25/2011 10:17:52 PM , Rating: 2
Well if you don't pay attention to all the associated commercials you are stealing lol

And DVR users are the EV drivers of television ;-P

RE: Remember...
By Targon on 4/26/2011 7:14:27 AM , Rating: 2
The purpose of advertising isn't just to SELL something, but is to get the company name and/or products into the minds of the viewer. The logic is that even if YOU do not directly purchase due to the advertisement itself, your awareness of said product will go up, and you may recommend the product to others depending on what it is. Corporate sponsorship of sports stadiums/arenas follows this, where the idea is to get more public awareness of your brand/company name, just to make other advertisements more effective.

Buy one get one free...if you have heard of the product before, this sort of sale MIGHT appeal to you a bit more. Look at some of the more catchy advertisements with a song playing on will pay more attention, and after watching several times, you will remember what company/product is being sold. Apple uses this VERY well when it comes to its products, and even if you hate Apple products, you will know about the product.

Commercials also work better on those with a intelligence, and this is why companies are so willing to pay millions of dollars on advertisements when there are a large number of people watching...if even one percent of the viewers buy the product advertised, that is a LOT of money.

RE: Remember...
By The Raven on 4/26/2011 11:23:35 AM , Rating: 2
Few things you need to run a search on bro:
1) lol
2) ;-P
3) DVR


RE: Remember...
By callmeroy on 4/26/2011 11:05:51 AM , Rating: 2
I avoid a lot of commercials since I DVR the few network shows I watch (Chicago Code, Blue Bloods, etc.) and I always skip the commercials but they do get me on sports (sports is boring to watch if it isn't live after all totally sucks out the "excitement" factor of how the game will end up).

I used to think it would be cool if a cable provider ever came up with a commercial free service for network all the primetime sit coms or police dramas I'd watch with zero commercials just the full episode with no interruptions until its over.

If you're thinking "yeah but what do they do with all that left over time in each time slot"....well I don't know to be honest, that would be for them to figure out how to make it work....:)

I wouldn't pay a lot for that service -- Comcast rapes me monthly as it is...but maybe an extra $5/mo I'd tolerate.

RE: Remember...
By Sahrin on 4/25/2011 11:37:50 PM , Rating: 2

you actually believe that.

Belief doesn't enter into it.
when you watching OTA tv your stealing from the cable and telephone company. why? your getting the same programming free when cable and teleco customer have to pay for it.

This example is idiotic. OTA TV is paid for by advertising dollars.
you never paid your fair share because no ones mpg is the same. we both drive the same miles to work, yet because your mpg is lower than mine you buy more gasoline than me. is that fair that you pay more gasoline tax than me and we drive the same mileage? i don't think there is anything illegal about going green.

You're confused. The intention of the tax is to pay for road maintenance, not to tax gasoline. By not paying as much as someone else (or in the case of EV's, at all) you are escaping paying the tax through a loophole. It's not illegal, but you'll notice that I never said it was. I said it was dodgy, and it is.

RE: Remember...
By Targon on 4/26/2011 7:16:43 AM , Rating: 2
Don't they already tax electric usage though? The money may come from a different place, but it still ends up in the greedy hands of stupid politicians who can't figure out how to read their mail without some aide to help them.

RE: Remember...
By chick0n on 4/25/2011 11:38:53 PM , Rating: 1
You walk on the road right? should they charge you tax too?

oh wait, you said you paid your taxes already, so did I. guess what, sooner or later they will find some way to tax you for walking. Lets see what you gonna say by then, moron.

RE: Remember...
By SeeManRun on 4/26/2011 12:03:43 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with this is you don't need to talk on paved sidewalks.. You could walk on dirt paths just the same. Freeways really have to be paved to allow for the high speed that cars travel, so they require much higher maintenance paths. Walking can't be taxed in the same way, though, your property taxes pay for the sidewalks and roads in a city. The state taxes gasoline and uses it to pay for the highways that don't fall under city jurisdiction.

RE: Remember...
By hughlle on 4/26/11, Rating: -1
RE: Remember...
By YashBudini on 4/26/2011 10:26:49 PM , Rating: 1
Since when is 'tax dodging' a good deed?

Around the time it became common to buy stuff on the Internet, even when it wasn't cheaper, just to dodge the sales tax. Along the same time it also became socially acceptable to steal intellectual property.

I'm surprised the "good deed" comment was rated up, given the number of people who disagree with EVs here.

RE: Remember...
By YashBudini on 4/27/2011 1:10:23 PM , Rating: 2
Hey Brandon,

What do I have to do to get a DT logon for the horse I rode in on? I shouldn't be singled out like this.

You may want to explain to your limited vision downraters that 1% of the US population is in jail. The rest are not living a "happily thereafter" fairy tale ending. IE grow up already.

RE: Remember...
By coolkev99 on 4/27/2011 9:07:21 AM , Rating: 2
"<<The intention of the gas tax is for users of roads to pay for the roads. >>"

Come now, lets be honest. Almost everyone who is pro (insert random tax here) will always bring up one of these things as an excuse.

1) Roads
2) Bridges
3) Education (ie, "our children")

How many more billions do we need for roads bridges and schools?!?

RE: Remember...
By dxf2891 on 4/27/2011 9:37:54 AM , Rating: 2
Those fees are supposed to come from licenses and registration fees. There was also supposed to be a tax levied on insurance without rate increases. However, due to the lobbying power of the insurance companies, that will never happen.

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