Washington state has introduced legislation proposing a $100 annual fee for owners of electric vehicles. The surtax is being proposed to compensate the state for lost gas tax revenue. However, General Motors has asked the state to shelve the bill.
State bill passed this week
Washington state Senate Bill 6455 passed earlier this week. The bill excludes hybrids, because they do burn gas at least some of the time. It will now be sent to the state House of Representatives for approval.
Recoups lost revenue, supporters say
Washington is not alone. Arizona, Oregon and Kansas are also proposing similar moves. Proponents of the surcharge argue that the financial crisis has been hard on states as well as individuals, and that they can ill-afford to miss out on any source of income. It is estimated that the EV surcharge would bring the state $ 1.9 million by fiscal year 2017.
Taxes fund highways
Gas tax revenue is used in Washington state, at least partially, to maintain the roads and infrastructure. The current gas tax in the state is 37 and a half cents per gallon of fuel. According to Smart Planet, the surcharge levied on electric vehicle owners would be about half of what the average gas-guzzling driver spends in fuel taxes annually.
Reduces EV incentives, critics say
Critics, however, argue that the surcharge will discourage consumers from adopting electric vehicles in the U.S. General Motors has been the most vocal of the critics.
GM asks state to drop it
General Motors Regional Director Howard Lenox Jr. sent a letter to Washington governor Chris Gregoire on March 6, asking her to remove the surtax from the proposed transportation bill. The added surtax would create further disincentive for the consumer to buy electric, GM argued.
“A fee which singles out electric vehicles will be a disincentive to the growth of the electric vehicle market in Washington State.”
It is generally accepted that cost is one of the main reasons that electric vehicles have not caught on in the U.S. An increased popularity of electric vehicles would decrease air pollution, as well as the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
GM — which makes the electric Chevy Volt — also argued that the relatively small number of electric vehicles in the state would have little fiscal impact.
“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.”