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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: This makes perfect sense
By Kosh401 on 4/25/2011 7:16:40 PM , Rating: 1
This makes no sense at all... ?

Brandon did the basic math in the article; EV owners are only "dodging" around $40 in taxes, yet the proposed amount is $100. That's actually punishing the average (12,000mi) driver by making them pay MORE than the average non-EV driver O_o

The other poster's comments about how everyone's MPG is vastly different anyway is also a very good point; a guy who drives his 22mpg car 30 miles to work is technically paying more in taxes to maintain the roads than someone driving a 32mpg car the same exact 30 miles to work... the wear and tear on the road is the exact same in both cases , so maybe we should throw in some extra taxes on those damned 30mpg+ vehicles while we're at it since it's not fair to those driving less efficient vehicles?


RE: This makes perfect sense
By nolisi on 4/25/2011 7:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the wear and tear on the road is the exact same in both cases


No it isn't. The distance might be the same, but a heavier and/or faster travelling vehicle does put more wear and tear on the roads than a lighter vehicle. It's basic physics. Just because the wear and tear isn't immediately perceptible doesn't mean it's not there.


RE: This makes perfect sense
By Kosh401 on 4/25/2011 7:39:52 PM , Rating: 2
heh I was actually going to mention that but got caught up in the moment when I was deciding to bold that line:) sure there is a weight difference between trucks and cars or whatever, but the point remains the same - there are cars within the same weight class that get very different mpg's.


RE: This makes perfect sense
By nolisi on 4/25/2011 7:45:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
there are cars within the same weight class that get very different mpg's.


True- but if one is concerned with saving money on gas, why would one buy a less efficient vehicle in the same weight class?

If you get more performance, that's one thing, but then that's a trade off you make, and the majority of the price you pay goes to the gas companies, not the government.


RE: This makes perfect sense
By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 2:38:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
True- but if one is concerned with saving money on gas, why would one buy a less efficient vehicle in the same weight class?


Maybe not all people are looking so much at saving money on gas but saving money at the initial purchase. Not everyone purchases an new vehicle, most probably purchase a used vehicle to save money but it is not as fuel efficient. Therefore simply saying heavier cars use more fuel is not always correct.


RE: This makes perfect sense
By jhb116 on 4/25/2011 9:04:05 PM , Rating: 2
First off - just because a system isn't perfect doesn't mean it isn't fair. Also remember that the gas tax was set up many many moons ago when mileage was a half decent representation of vehicle size/wear and tear on the road system. They could just add this onto income tax - certainly is "not fair" to those that utilize public transportation or bikes/feet to get around.

Secondly - this was bound to happen sooner or later. The gas tax is the really reason that we are still on fossil fuels. Finding another source for revenue to replace the gas tax will be difficult across the country. Of course this point might become moot because there are proposals for turning our transportation system into a fee based system.....


RE: This makes perfect sense
By ClownPuncher on 4/26/2011 11:38:55 AM , Rating: 2
WA does not have income tax.


RE: This makes perfect sense
By FishTankX on 4/25/2011 11:20:09 PM , Rating: 1
Indeed, it makes little sense. A camaro can't weigh much more than a prius, but in reality it pays about double tax. While one could rationalize this as a sort of sin tax on low fuel economy vehicles, it's still not 'fair' in the grand scheme of things.

What I think should be done with electric vehicles, is instead of a yearly tax, when it goes in for safety inspection or whatever, pay a tax on the value of the odometer. This would be more 'fair' in all honesty.


RE: This makes perfect sense
By Pryde on 4/26/2011 3:10:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What I think should be done with electric vehicles, is instead of a yearly tax, when it goes in for safety inspection or whatever, pay a tax on the value of the odometer. This would be more 'fair' in all honesty.


This is exactly how it is done in New Zealand ( and probly other places ) for all diesel vehicles ( but not petrol ). There are different rates depending on axles/weight and they must be pre purchased.

This should not be a fuel tax it should be a ROAD TAX . If they want to make a tax for lower MPG vehicles they should make a LOW MPG TAX. Hiding a tax within tax is a good sign of a corrupt government.


RE: This makes perfect sense
By Farfignewton on 4/26/2011 6:19:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
A camaro can't weigh much more than a prius, but in reality it pays about double tax


Well, an SS weighs around 800 lbs more. But while a prius saves money on gas and gas tax, I can drive around with another adult and two legless children who will not hide their faces when they exit the car. ;)


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