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Gov. Bob McDonnell  (Source:
The fee is meant to replace the state's gas tax

Drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles protested a proposed transportation plan in the state of Virginia, which would charge them $100 per year.

The $3.1 billion transportation plan, which was proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, would eliminate Virginia's gas tax entirely. However, drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles would have to pay an annual fee of $100 to make up for it.

"It's meant to compensate for the federal gas tax that those vehicles do not pay," said McDonnell.

However, hybrid and electric vehicle drivers feel that this plan thwarts progress in the area of clean vehicles rather than encourages it. Some drivers have even called the fee a "punishment."

"We should be rewarding people for trying to do their part to stop the climate crisis and to lower pollution," said Beth Kemler, who attended the protest. "We shouldn't be punishing them with taxes."

In other U.S. states, such as California, residents are awarded for making green auto choices. California residents can save as much as $13,000 on the purchase of an electric vehicle through the use of tax rebates/credits.

Source: WTOP

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By Brandon Hill on 2/4/2013 3:53:55 PM , Rating: 2
What about diesel vehicles like the Jetta/Golf/Beetle which get hybrid-like fuel economy? Are they exempt? If they are, then this proposed legislation is just bull****.

RE: Diesels
By DanNeely on 2/4/2013 4:23:18 PM , Rating: 3
Diesel already is taxed at a higher rate, although the extra 6.3c/gallon in Virginia probably isn't enough to balance the total tax burden.

Financing road maintenance by taxing fuel has always been a crude proxy for actual wear and tear done. Electric vehicles are just finally pushing the failings up to the point where something is being done.

That said it does have some advantages:

It's much harder for scoff laws to avoid paying than most other options (running a diesel with off-road diesel or home heating oil are the only easyish ways around it).

Replacing it with an annual assessment based on tonnage and miles traveled requires giving more information up to the govt (and would trigger protests by libertarian shaded groups), and fails to capture effects of people driving outside their home states in either direction (although selectively buying gas on the cheaper side of state lines already allows some gaming now).

It would also have an end user disadvantage in that an extra $5-10 per fillup is spread out over the course of a year; while a single $300-1000 fee added to either your annual state tax return or yearly registration/inspection fees would trigger massive sticker shock and hammer anyone who lives paycheck to paycheck.

RE: Diesels
By MozeeToby on 2/4/2013 4:31:18 PM , Rating: 5
Financing road maintenance by taxing fuel has always been a crude proxy for actual wear and tear done.
It is not even a crude proxy, even with the fuel economy a semi gets it is still subsidization of the transport industry.

Road wear is approximately proportional to the axle weight to the 4th power. A 40,000 lb semi has 10,000 lbs per axle, compared to a car which might have 2,000. 5x the difference in axle weight means the semi produces more than 600 times the wear and tear on the roadway than the car does.

RE: Diesels
By DanNeely on 2/4/2013 6:32:13 PM , Rating: 3
I think you're confused about what a crude proxy is. Within a generation of IC vehicles; heavier ones generally consume more gas (the higher fuel tax paid by light but gas guzzling sports car owners can be classed as luxury tax) which means that a per gallon tax on fuel is a proxy for per vehicle wear on the road. The fact that it's not a linear relation is one of the reasons *why* it's a only a crude proxy.

Within the category of mainstreamish passenger vehicles it works reasonably well though. Using a 2600 pound Ford Fiesta and 4600 pound F150 and adding 500 pounds of passenger + cargo weight, you get an 8:1 ratio on road wear and a 2:1 ratio on fuel consumption. Assuming the 'fair' rate is at the midpoint this means that the Fiesta driver's overpaying by a factor of 2 and the F150 driver is getting a half off discount.

It's hardly perfect; but then neither are any of the other tax rates. ex compare costs of living in Manhattan and Big Cornfield Kansas; and you're looking at a similar spread but federal tax brackets treat people in both areas equally.

I excluded significantly smaller vehicles like the Geo Metro or Smart Fortwo because they've never been a significant fraction of vehicles on the road and larger pickups like the F250/350 because they're more working vehicles as opposed to an I-Have-A-Big-Truck fashion statements used as people movers. Once you go beyond those into commercial vehicles we'd be paying for last mile transport costs either way; whether it's subsidizing their wear and tear on the roads as the gas pump or by significantly higher prices on everything we purchase because they're taxed directly for what they do to the roadways.

RE: Diesels
By toyotabedzrock on 2/4/2013 8:01:27 PM , Rating: 1
A sports car applies more torque to the road's surface. Hydrocarbons degrade the asphalt as well.

I bet plenty of people from DC and NC would fill up in Virgina if they did this.

RE: Diesels
By mmatis on 2/5/2013 9:15:01 AM , Rating: 2
Oh noes! More business for Virginia companies as a result of this change? Can't have that!

I sure wish the <sarcasm> tags would work properly on this site...

RE: Diesels
By Mint on 2/4/13, Rating: 0
RE: Diesels
By JediJeb on 2/4/2013 9:45:59 PM , Rating: 3
Instead, EV/hybrid drivers should continue to pay very little and legislation should be drawn up to push the fuel tax burden onto heavier vehicles, especially semis.

It isn't that lopsided as most think since commercial vehicles also have added usage taxes that non-commercial don't and excise taxes on everything from diesel to tires that add more taxes on heavier vehicles.

Maybe an alternative would be to tax tires. Tires wear faster if the vehicle is heavier or is used in a way that causes more wear and tear on the highway and by the miles driven, so that would be more proportional and include EV/hybrids.

RE: Diesels
By mcnabney on 2/5/2013 9:44:56 AM , Rating: 2

As was posted above - they do about 600x the damage to the road as they move vs a regular car, but they only get 1/5 the average mileage. That means that a tractor trailer is paying about 1/120th of the taxes for the same amount of damage done to the road. Factor in that they put at least 8x the mileage onto the roads each year than a commuter. Do you really think that the special fees for commercial trucks cost 120x what they pay in fuel taxes?

Almost all of the damage to our roads is caused by large trucks. Look at any interstate. Cars may outnumber trucks 10:1, but since trucks are doing 600x the damage - 98.4% of the road wear is being caused by the trucks. And since lighter is better for the roads - those lightweight hybrids and EVs are probably having almost zero impact on road degradation.

RE: Diesels
By JediJeb on 2/5/2013 9:14:36 PM , Rating: 2
But a quick search will show that there are about 250,000,000 cars on the highway and only about 1,250,000 commercial vehicles on the highway. So since there are nearly 100 times as many lighter vehicles on the road than heavy ones, then at most the ratio of damage is 6x cumulative. Also you have to figure in the fact that on residential streets that ratio of light vehicle traffic to heavy vehicle traffic is probably more than 1,000:1, only on the interstate highway would the heavy traffic be near the 100:1 ratio, so unless the gas taxes are only used for interstate repairs and not all highways then the actual tax ratio is about correct as it currently is. Remember not only does the federal government tax fuel for highway repairs, but so do state and local governments. It still works out closer to even than most people think.

RE: Diesels
By wordsworm on 2/4/2013 10:37:59 PM , Rating: 1
It's about time they went after bicycles and pedestrians, too. They both contribute to wear and tear. Could put a tax on bicycle tires and sneaker treads.

RE: Diesels
By bsd228 on 2/4/2013 11:09:02 PM , Rating: 2
> It's about time they went after bicycles and pedestrians, too. They both contribute to wear and tear. Could put a tax on bicycle tires and sneaker treads.

True, in a million years, they might wear down that road. But only if Caltrans keeps nature at bay for all that time.

RE: Diesels
By wordsworm on 2/5/2013 12:50:55 AM , Rating: 2
I don't agree. In about 200 years the average male will weigh 1,000lbs if the current trend continues.

RE: Diesels
By Rukkian on 2/6/2013 10:28:41 AM , Rating: 2
They also wont be walking or riding bikes, either.

RE: Diesels
By DanNeely on 2/5/2013 7:41:18 AM , Rating: 2
Also, is the proportion you're using for scaling per axle or per wheel? Since the likely cause of wear on the road is ground pressure the latter seems more likely to me. In that case your typical 18 wheel semi is a 9 axle equivalent; and using the weight numbers you plugged in gives (4400/2000)^5 = a 24 to 1 ratio. Google's indicating 6-8 mpg for a fuel efficient semi which puts them at a ~3-5x discount vs typical passenger cars.

RE: Diesels
By Nutzo on 2/4/2013 4:33:01 PM , Rating: 1
This tax should only apply to EV or plugin Hybrids. Maybe a sliding scale based on battery size or range.

Standard Hybrids still burn gas, so the owners already pay gas taxes. Highway milage on a hybrid isn't much better than a similar gas car, or a diesel.

RE: Diesels
By GotThumbs on 2/4/13, Rating: 0
RE: Diesels
By rs2 on 2/4/2013 7:12:09 PM , Rating: 5
No, the tax shouldn't apply at all. It's absurd to punish people for driving vehicles that are more efficient/consume less fossil fuels.

RE: Diesels
By Reclaimer77 on 2/4/2013 7:45:09 PM , Rating: 1
I thought taxes weren't a punishment though? Obama and the Left says it's fairness. It's doing your "fair share".

Unless they come up with an EV that magically doesn't use the roads, this isn't a punishment. It's a road tax and you'll pay it like everyone else has to!

RE: Diesels
By rs2 on 2/5/2013 12:45:42 AM , Rating: 4
If it's a road tax, then let them tax the electricity that powers the EV just like they tax the gas that other vehicles use. Oh, wait, they *already* do that in Virginia.

So people driving hybrids are already paying the same road tax as anyone else when they purchase fuel. People driving pure electrics (yeah, like all 12 of them) are paying tax whenever they charge their vehicle, which may as well be analogous to the gas tax (it's extra revenue for the government that's directly proportional to the amount the vehicle is used).

Hitting these people with a special tax because their vehicles are more efficient and therefore require less fuel/energy to operate and generate less tax revenue is exactly a punishment. It's telling people "you can't get ahead, no matter how hard you try; everything you save on efficiency we're going to take back in the form of taxes, because we can".

RE: Diesels
By maugrimtr on 2/5/2013 9:00:23 AM , Rating: 2
Stop talking sense and go home.

Yes, EV's pay taxes on the electricity they use. So it's really a mix between a distribution problem (where are the electical tax going?) and something valid - EVs will obviously add wear and tear to roads. Bearing in mind that a tax should be equitable and fair, taxing EVs likely isn't THAT terrible. It's just that EVs are currently price sensitive. They are expensive for early adoption but once those costs come down and the savings are more obvious, a simple car tax will have less impact on the cost of ownership.

RE: Diesels
By Dr of crap on 2/5/2013 1:11:06 PM , Rating: 2
This might make sense IF there was a large population of EVs and hybrids on the roads. But they are a very small section of the large amount of vehicles on the road. Seems like this state is jumping ahead and making the few that do have these cars angry and maybe keeping those thinking about getting one, not want to.

EVEN though it is only $100. Don't go out to eat two times and you have your hundred.

RE: Diesels
By ebakke on 2/4/2013 8:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
It's absurd that people who bought vehicles that are more efficient/consume less fossil fuels believe everyone but them should pay for the roads their vehicles drive upon.

RE: Diesels
By Mint on 2/4/2013 9:17:44 PM , Rating: 2
Read the points above. Roads don't get worn out significantly by EVs or gas cars. They get worn out by heavy trucks. Some studies estimate a factor of 10000x for the damage done by a loaded 18-wheeler vs a sedan, yet the Truck only consumes 5x the fuel (and thus only 5x the taxes).

Imagine if you paid $100 per year for garbage disposal, while the company down the street paid $500, but generated 10,000 times the garbage. If your neighbor got his garbage disposal for free, it'd dumb to be mad that your fee is subsidizing his free disposal. Instead, you should be arguing that the company should pay $599.88 while you and your neighbor pay $0.06, which is pretty much identical to the company footing the entire bill.

99.99% of the fuel tax that you pay isn't subsidizing EVs. It's subsidizing transport companies.

RE: Diesels
By JediJeb on 2/4/2013 10:47:10 PM , Rating: 2
The "Heavy Vehicle Use Tax" has already been implemented for just that problem, to level the field between light cars and heavy trucks.

Aside from the extra federal tax charged to heavy vehicles many states also add extra taxes on heavy vehicles. Add to that the fact that (as of 2010, most recent rates I found) gasoline is taxed at 18.4 cents per gallon versus 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel and the fact that the average semi under normal operating conditions gets 6.5mpg, I believe the discrepancy is lower than many people think.

Add to that the tire taxes

For most radial truck tires:
FET = ((Max. single load capacity in pounds-3,500)÷10)x$0.09450

This means that for every pound over 3500 on the load limit of the tire the tax increases and since it applies only to tires used on commercial vehicles it doesn't get charged to normal passenger vehicles. This was another tax added to heavy vehicles for the purpose of making up for the difference in highway wear due to higher weights.

Heavy trucks are not getting away with paying that much less taxes versus the amount of wear and tear they do on the highways, this has already been assumed and taxes added to help make up the difference. You can't only look at fuel taxes, you have to look at the whole tax package.

RE: Diesels
By Strunf on 2/5/2013 7:45:28 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt your 10000x figure, a truck may be heavier but it also as many more wheels and the wheels are much bigger, if you calculate the weight a truck and divide by the surface of contact with the road the difference wont be that big compared to a sedan, it's like comparing the impact on the soil by an elephant and a women wearing high heels.

Another point is that heavy trucks don't use all the roads, they use mostly the big axes and that probably isn't a big percentage of the total road length.

RE: Diesels
By johnsmith9875 on 2/5/2013 3:15:05 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree. Trucks do damage roads. Look at any roads at intersections leading up to a truck stop and you will see the asphalt has deep grooves in it due to the weight of the trucks driving on it.

RE: Diesels
By rs2 on 2/5/2013 12:57:06 AM , Rating: 3
No, pay attention. Currently everyone pays for the roads in the form of a gas tax.

The proposal is to take away the gas tax, and offset it by taxing only hybrid/EV drivers. Why should they pay for themselves and everyone else to use the roads?

The gas tax is more fair (everyone pays an amount that's proportional to their use of their vehicles, including hybrid drivers; hybrids still use gas). That leaves out pure EV drivers, but there aren't many of those and electricity is taxed in Virginia anyways. So they're paying a comparable tax already.

Do you really hate people who try to buy efficient vehicles so much that you want to 1) double tax them and 2) try to make them look selfish for not wanting to be double-taxed at the same time?

RE: Diesels
By ebakke on 2/5/2013 11:55:36 AM , Rating: 2
The proposal is to take away the gas tax, and offset it by taxing only hybrid/EV drivers.
Fair enough. I misread. I understood it to be a $100 tax on all vehicles, and only the hybrid/EV drivers were protesting. My mistake.

RE: Diesels
By FITCamaro on 2/4/2013 4:36:18 PM , Rating: 3
The issue is regardless of how fuel efficient they are, they still wear on roads just as much as other cars their size (possibly more since they're heavier due to the batteries) while paying less/no fees towards the maintaining of those roads.

If we all switched to electric cars (and you know how stupid I believe that to be right now) should we have no money to maintain roads? Or just take it out of the general fund?

RE: Diesels
By NellyFromMA on 2/4/2013 4:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
It all boils down to the fact that:

1) Local governments, like the federal government, do not have proper funding to carry out their functions properly.

2) Rather than address spending concerns, they just want more money without the ability to even talk about spending woes and their ultimate resolution.

3) We already pay excise taxes, which make sense, but aren't enough because several generations have squandered the money we could have been using properly before it got out of hand. Excise should be paid regardless or elec vs gas. It's road usage.

It kind of annoying that many of our generations problems boil down to the above more or less.

Sadly, I live in Taxachusetts which has already proposed two tax hikes, one of which is on transportation. When asked where the money went and cited the fact we already pay excise, our governmor's response was something along the lines of 'no, I am not looking to find the waste, we need more revenue'

It's sad that we not only elect these people, but RE-ELECT them... -_-

RE: Diesels
By Mint on 2/4/2013 9:21:59 PM , Rating: 2
If we all switched to electric cars (and you know how stupid I believe that to be right now) should we have no money to maintain roads? Or just take it out of the general fund?
You should find a way to get transport companies to foot the bill. Heavy trucks do almost all of the damage.

Taxing by fuel use has never been a fair way to distribute the costs in the first place.

RE: Diesels
By FITCamaro on 2/5/2013 9:28:32 AM , Rating: 2
BS. Passenger vehicles far outnumber semis on roads. To put the blame and cost largely on them would not only raise the price of EVERYTHING even more than it has already gone up but be blatantly unfair.

I agree with the guy above you that governments waste too much money on stupid "feel good" crap to the point that they can't pay for necessary things.

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