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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 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.

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