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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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By JediJeb on 4/26/2011 3:07:35 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong, at least partially:

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.

Also Tractor Trailer and other heavy vehicle tires have an extra excise tax on them for road maintenance. Add to that the road taxes on diesel with these trucks getting about 8mpg and they are probably paying as much or more than cars are. Just think, if gasoline and diesel are taxed at the same rate for road taxes and a semi gets 8mpg and a car gets 24mpg then the truck is paying the same tax as 4 cars do. Add to that the fact that many semi trucks travel between 100,000 and 250,000 miles per year and the tax they pay is huge. While a truck may do more damage itself, look at your typical intersection when driving to work and see what the number of cars is versus the number of big trucks. If the truck does 10x damage versus a car then overall they are not doing the most damage unless the ratio of cars to trucks falls below 10:1. If there are 15 cars for every big truck on the road then the cars do the most damage. Of course the 10x damage is just an arbitrary number I used, but you still have to do the figuring on damage multiplier versus truck to car ratio to get the true damage difference no matter what.


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