General Motors has gone on record to oppose a Washington State bill that would impose a fee of $100 per year on electric-vehicle drivers.

GM Regional Director Howard Lenox, Jr. wrote a letter on March 6 to Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire stating that the automaker, which makes the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in hybrid, is against such a bill. The state is proposing the fee as a way for EV drivers to compensate for the gas taxes that they otherwise wouldn't be paying. The letter was posted on GM's The Future Is Electric blog.

"A fee which singles out electric vehicles will be a disincentive to the growth of the electric vehicle market in Washington State," Lenox wrote in the letter. "As a practical matter, there are so few vehicles on Washington's roads today that their impact in replacing fuel tax revenues will, for now, be negligible."

While drivers of the Volt actually wouldn't be subject to such a fee because its onboard generator is gas-powered, GM appears to be looking ahead as the automaker looks to electrify more of its fleet to meet more stringent greenhouse-gas emissions requirements.

Last month, Washington State passed Senate Bill 5251, which was introduced by Mary Haugen, the Senate's transportation committee chairwoman. The fee, which is subject to a vote by the state's House of Representatives, is estimated to add as much as $1.9 million to the state's coffers by 2017. Arizona, Oregon and Kansas are among other states looking at instituting fees that specifically target electric vehicle drivers.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      Ele Truk
      • 2 Years Ago
      What has happened to the bill 5251 (which used to stand on its own) was folded into another bill 6455 which was about raising fees for various vehicle licenses. Kind of a dirty trick since 5251 was looking like it was going to die in committee (again). Now the whole licensing thing would have to be struck down for the fee to not get added to EVs, and that's not likely to happen since everybody is scrambling for additional revenue.
        Ford Future
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ele Truk
        Vote out the Sponsor of the Bill. Target that Legislator and Kick him out of Government.
          Ele Truk
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          Unfortunately, she (Sen. Haugen) is not in my district, but I will consider donating money to her opponent, even if it is for the other party.
      Tysto
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oh, geez, I guess I owe a lot of back taxes for all those cigarettes I'm not smoking....
      brotherkenny4
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you really wanted to tax fairly based on road usage you would be taxing long haul trucks at a much higher rate and everyone else at a lower rate. This assumes that you actually want the tax to be fairly distributed to those who benefit most from the roads. You'd do it either through tax on diesel or licensing fees. Of course this would be passed on as a cost to the consumer in increased cost of shipping. Which is also fair since that is what drives the trucking industry. I think, this is how a truely free market would work. The cost of government provided service or public cost would be borne buy the user or the benficiary. All other methods are subsidization. Currently we subsidize the long haul trucking industry through our vehicle fees and gas taxes.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Hours Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        Agreed. This is basically what I said - no tax on anything under 5000 lbs, and only minimal tax up to 10000 lbs. Trucks are what kill the roads, not cars.
        Spec
        • 2 Hours Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        This! Typical passenger cars do almost nothing too well built roads. But big huge trucks just destroy roads with their weight. Trucks should be taxed much higher so they pay for the costs of roads because they are the ones that wear them out. And that should help encourage us to move more shipping to rail that better withstands heavy loads and is MUCH more energy efficient. Wal*Mart is basically a big welfare queen with regard to the benefit they get from the roads that everyone else pays for. They are also a big welfare queen in that many of their workers end up having their healthcare costs paid for by the government. Too much "privatize the profits and socialize the costs" in this country.
          EZEE
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @Spec
          I avoid Wal-mart like the plague, but only because I am too good to shop there, :| Your last line pretty much sums up many problems though,NAND why we had the crash. None of the big financial houses would have made their dumb investments if they didn't think they would be bailed out. And what bank would have made those loans if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac didn't underwrite them? This is something the right and left can get together on. Tell them all - if you screw up, we won't be there to save your butts.
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      GM should just shut their mouth on this and let the little pro-EV groups do the petitioning. Having GM make such comments will just raise the anti-GM jihadists that will harp about GM asking for another tax-break.
        EZEE
        • 2 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Maybe. As the official radical right wing extremist here, I both smile and frown. One, smiling that it is democrats doing these things every single time (thanks to ABG for making me better at research), and frown because I want to see this new industry have every break it can get, and not have a new, special tax or regulation slapped on it. Again, personally, I don't hold this against gm. Now, if others produce articles from fox or commentary from Rush, I will stand corrected.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @EZEE
          "As the official radical right wing extremist here" Oh? I thought that was me. Still, if you want the title, I won't contest it!
      Tysto
      • 2 Years Ago
      Before you try to think of how to "fairly" tax EV drivers for road use, keep these basic economic principles in mind. 1) Money is fungible. You can use revenues raised from taxing toilet flushes to fund road-building if you want. So road construction and repair do NOT rely on gas taxes; that's a false connection. 2) Therefore, the ONLY reason to tax gasoline (instead of just raising income taxes to get the same level of revenue) is to discourage the use of gasoline. This is the basis of "sin taxes" and one method by which to avoid the "tragedy of the commons." Taxing people because they DON'T use gasoline is therefore idiotic. 3) Given that everyone needs roads (personally and for the delivery of goods and services), ANY taxes tied to road use are regressive (the poorer you are, the greater the percentage of your income you pay) and therefore damaging to an economy. Therefore, If you want everybody to pay the same taxes for roads, then you should just raise everybody's income taxes. Do NOT find a way to specifically tax EV drivers. That would just result in discouraging EV buying.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      bureaucracy, and complexity are sometimes necessary to get proper incentive to change our addiction to Oil. Sometimes we cannot have it all. I would gladly have a little complexity in road taxes if that means millions of gallons of gasoline do Not get purchased from foreign countries, and burned. Suggesting that simpler is always better is not realistic... And the idea that we should reduce incentives by keeping the EV tax simple... as to avoid "resentment" is apologetic pandering to the right.
      fly by wireless
      • 2 Years Ago
      If they taxed all non-petroleum cars (i.e. biofuel, etc.) this way it would be fin. It's pretty shitty to target EV's specifically, especially since they aren't even past 1% of all cars on the roads in WA. More stupid politician tricks.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @fly by wireless
        Wait until they tax bicycles, rollerblades, and running shoes...
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          If the concept were things which road damage, then there's no need to tax anything with GVWT under 5000 lbs, with marginal taxes up to 10000 lbs. Over that, taxes should be astronomical. Out of state truck? Collect a fixed fee at the state border.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          To be fair.. it is not a tax on transportation... but on road use. Those three examples do not damage roadways over time. And road maintenance is a HUGE cost for the government.
        Ele Truk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @fly by wireless
        They do tax CNG vehicles, $143.65 per year and up - depending on the weight of the vehicle. The thing is, not only is the fee collected going to be negligible, it will actually cost the state money until there are over 10,000 EVs in the state. Currently there are about 1000. So a tenfold increase in numbers is required just to break even, Brilliant!
      marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      It seems that there are two sides to this argument. 1) Road taxes should be paid by all road users. 2) ICE traffic is evil, and should pay taxes for environmental purposes to help subsidise EV, EV should be exempt on moral grounds. As an EV fleet owner, naturally I support the second option! However, I don't believe taxation should be unfair or have a 'moral' dimension. Most of all, I think taxation should always be simple. IMHO, the easiest and fairest way to accomplish equitable Road Tax, is by taxing tyres. Such a Tax is simple, easy to collect, promotes equality, the lighter the tyre, the lighter the tax. It also favours locally manufactured tyres as the tax disc is built into the tyre at manufacture.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        Let's pretend we wanted to tax tires. Gasoline tax in SoCal is about 8% of $4.50/gal, or $0.36/gal. The typical driver is about 12k miles per year at 20 mpgc, using about 600 gallons annually. So that's $216 in Fuel taxes annually. Tires have a good life of 30,000-40,000 miles, or about 3 years of driving. So we're looking about $162 in road tax fees per-tire. If you buy a set, that's an extra $650 to cover the road tax.
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @marcopolo
        You are grossly misrepresenting the other side of the argument to that which you take in order to create a straw man. The reason for a tax differential to favour EV's, if that is chosen to be the case, could be on a number of grounds, not the simple moral high horse you postulate. The first is that the externalities of the combustion engine are substantial, and that taxation should be used to rectify this. I have already linked in this thread to studies showing that pollution from cars causes tens of thousands of deaths. Moral issues aside, this is cost in loss of income and medical bills. It would seem entirely appropriate that taxation should be used to balance this, and de-incentivise killing people. The second reason would be in order to substitute internal energy supplies for strategically vulnerable oil supplies, a valid goal of the state and one which would give an immense boost to the economy. The French use a bonus-malus system, where the overall taxation burden on cars remains constant on a global basis, but levels are adjusted on individual cars so that EV's for instance, are zero rated, whilst F150 pick ups for private use, should such a thing hit French roads, would pay very high taxes indeed. Higher taxation of ICE cars serves both strategic and commercial purposes, and accords with equity in recognising the damage they do to public health.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @DaveMart
          @Dave Mart (sigh) Those in favour of complicated tax schemes to provide social engineering, always have some seemingly compelling argument based on achieving 'fairness' or 'equality'. In fact such schemes seldom achieve such objectives and instead create widespread avoidance, voter dissension, and nearly all the revenue raised is spent on vast bureaucracies, creating even more amounts of government expenditure, requiring even more government taxes. This revenue raising is justified by the government providing even more unnecessary 'services' to provide a section of the populace the crippling welfare benefits of nanny states. The only benefit is to left wing politicians as of such policies create more government welfare dependant voters living in poverty traps!
      Smurf
      • 2 Years Ago
      As an EV owner I support the Washington bill but not the Arizona one. The Washington bill has a tax equivalent of a 25 MPG vehicle driving 15,000 miles. The AZ bill, which is mileage based, is the tax equivalent of a vehicle that gets 12 MPG. The Washington tax is proportional to what an average driver would pay, so that is why I support it. It looks like a reasonable bill to address the lost road tax revenues from EV's. The AZ bill unfairly taxes EV owners much higher than the average ICE driver. That bill looks more like an effort to suppress the growth of EV's. We EV owners have no problem paying a road tax, as we are aware, that by not using gas, we don't pay road taxes under the current system. It is the use of gasoline that we are trying to avoid, not taxes. It may take a while to build enough support to make the transition from gasoline taxes to usage and/or mileage based road taxes. The Washington is a "decent start" and could help "lead" to future mileage or usage taxes for all vehicles... Besides... I'm tired of right wing wackos whining about me not paying road taxes. This would put a stop to that.... I
        miles
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        Smurf, why is it ok to tax an EV owner at a 25mpg rate, when they are already spending extra on a more expensive vehicle (and paying more sales taxes) that has other benefits to the area? How about adding a tax to gas vehicles for the costs of pollution that are much reduced for EV's? And a military tax on gas cars to compensate for our defending our access to oil? I think letting EV owners slide by without a gas tax has already been compensated in other ways.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        Yeah . . . how about charge them for 12,000 miles of their EPA rated MPGe?
          Ele Truk
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @Spec
          Now that the Nissan Leaf has been around for a year now, we are beginning to see what the average mileage a Leaf user does, and it's 12,000 miles, not the 15,000 that Washington State assumes. I drive considerably less (having a 40 mile range in my 1999 Ford Ranger EV) and average less than 4000 miles a year. Yet with this fee I have to pay for 15,000 miles? And what about those EV owners who have conversions and show vehicles that put only a couple hundred miles a year on an EV? The flat fee is arbitrary and unfair and the number is simply pulled out of someone's ass.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @Spec
          The notion that politicos do anything based on rational data is pretty laughable.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        Smurf, I completely agree with your willingness to pay road taxes. But instead of paying the same as 25 mpg, folks should pay based on the equivalent MPGe that their EV is actually rated for. That way the gov't can continue to incentivize efficiency, while still collecting road taxes. The tax could be collected every year with licensing, based upon a set number of miles. People who drive more miles on EV power would get a per-mile break, which is perfect, because we want in incentivize the folks who drive the most to drive EV's. People who drive their EV's very few miles will pay more per mile, which will incentivize them to drive their EV more, and their gassers less. Anyways, I'm sure this will all work out somehow in the end.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @PR
          @PR What a great idea! Let's create an even more complicated tax regime, employ even more civil servants, and really complicate things. More bureaucracy, more rules, more regulations, more government interference, just what everyone needs!
          PR
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @PR
          marco, Here is how complicated it would be for our poor civil servants. 1) Type in the year and make of the car, just like always. 2) Tell the owner how much the computer says the tax is. 3) Take the money and hand over the tags. Since that is what they already do, I think they can handle it. It doesn't add a new collection system, or compliance regime, or anything else. It would just be included in the same registration regime that is already in place. All it would take would be some very simple computer programming in their system to assign a single set tax value for each EV for each model year. One tax value on a simple look-up table in a simple computer program that assigns a fixed tax value that you pay. The math would have to be calculated exactly once for each EV, exactly once every model year. Too hard, I guess. I guess it would be easier to collect taxes on tires from literally hundreds of thousands of tire retailers, monitoring them for compliance, educating them, etc. like you want to do. Then have to figure out how to stop black-market tire sales to evade the taxes, stopping people who live near the border from driving to Canada or Mexico to buy tires, and deal with tire makers and salesmen who start making false tire life-span statements to boost sales. Oh, and when super-hard rubber compound tires that get lousy traction (especially in bad weather and the cold) increase the number of automobile accidents and deaths, just to avoid paying tire taxes, the backlash will be spectacular.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @PR
          /sarcasm And you know, fuel economy is easy to understand with normal gas guzzling cars. Just two MPG ratings (city and highway)... but this Plug in Hybrids are too complicated.... it requires mental work to understand the efficiency. I have to calculate daily driving distances too now. / end sarcasm If you think that PR's idea is bad because "it's too complicated"... then we need to fix the education system first! If you think this would require more "civil servants" to be employed to handle this... then someone should show you how to use your computer. It ain't that complicated.
          Smurf
          • 2 Hours Ago
          @PR
          Like I said. This is a "decent" start, and the least unreasonable of the proposals I have seen. There are a lot of good ideas out there about how to deal with paying for road repairs in a fair and equitable manner, but "none" of these ideas are gaining any momentum. A small meaningless $100/year road tax for EV owners might actually create some momentum and get some of these good ideas implemented....
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        I also believe that all vehicle owners should pay something to support the highway infrastructure, however I believe it should be based on actual miles driven and not based on an arbitrary average. Since I drive only about 4k miles per year, I don't particularly feel that I should pay tax based on what someone else drives. How about taxing me on the mileage driven at the time I sell/trade the vehicle in.
          • 2 Hours Ago
          I just realized that there are also folks that drive Hybrids or PHEV's that are actually paying taxes for gas that they use. How would we fairly apportion taxes to these folks and should we penalize folks for purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles just because they are not using some average quantity of gasoline and therefore paying a certain amount of taxes?
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        All of you people ROCK! That was the best collection of rational debate I have seen in a long time. All with great points. Personally, I would put a 5 - 10 year moratorium on taxing of these vehicles, as an extra incentive. There aren't enough out their that the roads will crumble due to their use. That said. If it has to be done, PR's idea is pretty nifty. It allows for incentive, but still collects something.
        Ford Future
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        As EV's are an Economic Benefit to America and the State they reside in, this is a form of Economic Suicide. Taking Saudi Money now?
        DaveMart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smurf
        'The Irvine study of the formation of secondary compounds in the atmosphere, which will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, upends previous assumptions about the fate of the byproducts of the pollution from internal-combustion engines. These gaseous byproducts were thought to incorporate themselves into tiny airborne drops of liquid that would then dissipate quickly as the drops evaporated. The new study finds instead that they attach themselves more tightly to airborne organic particles, creating tiny tar balls that evaporate more slowly and persist longer than anyone had thought. E.P.A. models built on these assumptions now appear to understate the total amount of fine particles, according to Barbara J. Finlayson-Pitts, a professor at Irvine and one of the study’s authors. ' http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/science/earth/scientists-find-new-dangers-in-tiny-but-pervasive-particles-in-air-pollution.html?_r=3 These do not come from coal plants, but ICE engines. They are killing tens of thousands a year, Combustion engines are grossly undertaxed.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Roads don't pay for themselves. Free transportation doesn't exist.
      Brody
      • 2 Years Ago
      The environmental and national benefits of EV outweigh the lost "Gas Tax" revenue. And "gas tax" does not even pay for roads and highways totally anyway. Electricity users pay taxes anyway.
        PR
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brody
        This is a good point too. Take the additional taxes already collected on the additional electricity used to charge cars, and assign it to be used to build highways. There would be no need to figure out the actual tax based upon how much people charge. Just calculate what percent of electricity is used for car charging across the state based upon random sampling. If 5% of electricity is found to be used for EV charging, then take 5% of all electricity taxes and put it into the highway fund. Simple. Still incentivizes efficient transportation, and no additional collection burden. The only overhead would be the random sampling similar to how TV ratings were collected from "Nielsen Families" to determine what percent of taxes to transfer. Low overhead. Very little opportunity for cheating. And EV drivers then can say they also help pay for the roads. Yet another good idea! Thanks Brody.
      Scambuster
      • 2 Years Ago
      Big Government with a socialist agenda will always find an excuse to extract more money from the middle class working stiffs. Washington State's $100 fee specifically targeting EV is a classic example. As Big Government piles on new taxes on top of old ones followed by government fees on top of rate increases, it is not surprising many Americans rather receive welfare than worki for a living. Washington State is no exception.
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