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GM weighs in against Washington’s proposed EV surtax

General Motors earlier this week sent a letter to Washington Gov. Chris Gregorie asking that a proposed $100 EV surtax be removed from the state’s transportation bill (Senate Bill 6455, ESSB 6455) on the grounds that it will create a disincentive toward the purchase of an EV. The proposal currently excludes vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt, which can run part of the time on gasoline.

Proponents of the surtax argue the fee is needed to offset losses in state gas tax revenues since EV owners don’t need to buy gas. GM believes this proposal is misguided and will hurt sales and market adoption of EVs. The small number of pure EVs on the road at this point have a negligible impact on state revenues, GM argues.

Electric vehicles are a promising new and evolving advanced technology. Independent studies consistently conclude that price is a barrier to adoption of the technology, this concluding the need for incentives...Conversely, a fee which singles out electric vehicles will be a disincentive to the growth of the electric vehicle market in Washington State.

As a practical matter, there are currently so few electric vehicles on Washington’s roads today that their impact in replacing fuel tax revenues will, for now, be negligible. Finally, on the question of fairness, broader consideration should be given to assuring that taxes and fees fairly relate to the use of the system and that they are technologically neutral (i.e. do no favor certain technologies over others). ESSB 6455 does not contemplate any of these important questions.

...We believe that all beneficiaries of the system should pay their fair share of the costs for preserving, operating and improving the statewide transportation system. To that end, we applaud you intent to commission the Road user Future Funding Task Force, and we stand ready to be a contributor to the process.

—Letter from GM


Ronald Wolf

The state of Washington should be encouraging the adoption of EVs. If they are so desperate for gas tax revenue they should raise the tax on gasoline by 1 cent per gallon. This would more than cover the lost money on EVs for at least 10-20 years.


If Chris Gregorie wants to offset losses in state gas tax revenues because some vehicle owners don’t need to buy gas why stop at EVs? Why not also tax bicyclists and joggers? And what about those people who insist on holding up traffic just so they can walk to the other side of the street? I mean not only do they impede the "natural order" of things but they expect the state to just pony-up for the cost paint and lights so they can hinder us (the rightful ruling class) in safety.

BTW - j/k


GM is right this time. Increasing the gas tax would be a much better idea to compensate (and more) for reduced sales.


Just levy the tax based on charging, the utility company collects it and passes it on to the state to build and repair roads, the same way gasoline stations do it now.

If you have a separate meter with Time of Use rates for your car, this should be easy. Since it is THE major user of electricity in your home and you are getting a preferred rate, you will not even notice it.

I know people don't want to tax BEVs at all and maybe right now with few on the road it does not matter. Sooner or later they have to help pay for roads and this would be a good way to do that.


just a simple tax on electricity to support BEVs, something minor like $0.01 per kWh


Given the small size of most current EVs, people ought to get incentives to use them instead of ICEVs in urban and rush-hour traffic.  Congestion would go down and road capacity would go up.


We already pay 15% (Fed + Prov) sales tax on all the electricity we consume, but since it is still the lowest cost energy source @ about $0.065/Kwh, nobody really complains.

Eventually, the current $0.40+/L ($1.50/gal) fuel tax will have to be replaced with higher registration fees ($0.01/lbs per year?), e-energy tax (another 15%?), road tax ($0.01/mile?) i.e. enough to maintain roads and bridges and build new ones.

Automated traffic violation radar/photo detectors can also become a very effective revenue replacement source while reducing road accidents and fatalities. One well located unit collected $20,000,000 last year. Multiply that by 1000 or 10,000 or so and it could replace a major portion of current fuel taxes.


That's outrages!!! Instead of introducing gasoline tax Washington state taxing EV's!!!!! That should be registered in the history books.


The irony is that Washington State wants to penalize drivers who power themselves with in-state hydropower in order to unburden drivers who drain money out of the local economy and send it to Canada, Venezuela and Nigeria.


Over here in The Netherlands, they played with the idea of paying variable road taxes not through a petrol tax, but through a registration by gps of km's driven. The added 'bonus' was the ability to differentiate the price based on the time of day and location (you pay more for busy roads during rush hour to reduce congestion). That idea was binned about 2 years ago, since the majority of the population didn't want it.

But as electrification progresses, the state has to somehow compensate for the increasing loss of revenues and I predict that the idea of gps-based road tax will keep coming back. It is after all fair to let those that make most use of the roads contribute more to maintenance. A fixed monthly tax is unfair as it does not take into account how much you the roads. Additionally, a fixed tax has no incentive to reduce car kilometers and thus congestion.


E-P...I basically agree with you but governments will have to find replacement revenues for roads and bridges as liquid fuel sales and associated taxes progressively diminish.

Why not have outrageous drivers pay for part of it and simultaneously reduce road accidents and fatalities with easy to install automated photo-radars? Respectful law abiding drivers would have less to pay?


By the time EVs are commonplace the consumer will pay as much or more for charging as he or she now pays for a fill up at the pump. Wouldn't that be ironic.


Given that the total road taxes on fuel are typically 50¢/gallon or less, the equivalent per-mile levy on electricity wouldn't hurt the economics all that badly even today.

If the per-kWh levy included delivery to the vehicle through the road (a la Hanazawa), I would expect people to be delighted to pay it.  Imagine never having to stop to charge, because the battery is always filled up in normal driving!


The need to collect more revenue might turn out to be one reason they build such electrified highways or even some form of E-guideway;

Just like tollroads such enterprises can collect fees long after they've been paid for.

Paul Kahle

In a related move, the Washington State Legislature has decided to pass a new $1000 per year fee on non-smokers. The current Washington State cigarette tax of $30.25 per carton goes into the general fund and is used to pay for most state services. Non-smokers are avoiding paying their fair share by intentionally dodging this tax. Sen Mary Haugen (D-Camano Island), sponsor of the bill, was quoted as saying, "It's only fair."


Mary Margaret Haugen is a DINO (democrat-in-name-only) She's actual self-professed a conservative Catholic.


Correction: Another source says she goes to a United Methodist Church.


On the other hand, people without children pay the same (unfair) school tax as their neighbor with large families.

Everybody in good health (never sick) often pay part of the very high health care cost.

The list could go on and on. That's what living in a society is like.

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