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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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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.

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