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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 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.


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