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


quote:
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
quote:
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.


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