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
"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
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.