General Motors looking to slam the breaks on proposed Washington State electric car tax

General-Motors-looking-to-slam-the-breaks-on-proposed-Washington-State-electric-car-taxGeneral Motors has sent an open letter of opposition to Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire over a proposed bill that would impose an annual fee of $100 tax on electric vehicle owners.

It appears GM, manufacturers of the Chevrolet Volt, are in stern opposition to the states attempt to increase revenue. In response to the proposed legislation, GM Regional Director Howard Lenox, Jr. recently wrote a letter to Governor Gregoire stating the automakers stern opposition with GM sharing the view that this particular piece of legislation from the state would penalize drivers for owning an electric vehicle.

From the state’s perspective, introduction of the bill is seen as a way for the state of Washington to recoup revenue from gas taxes, which it obviously wouldn’t  collect from electric vehicle owners.

In his letter to Governor Gregoire, Lenox, Jr. wrote, “A fee which singles out electric vehicles will be a disincentive to the growth of the electric vehicle market in Washington State.” He added, “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.”

Shad Balch, writing on GM’s The Future Is Electric blog, added that the “logic behind this tax holds no real merit” and echoed Lenox Jr’s. sentiments that any fee collected from this legislation would be insignificant at best – labeling the legislation as a “blatant attack on innovation and clean transporation.”

Interestingly, drivers of the Chevy Volt wouldn’t actually be subject to such a fee should the proposed legislation pass given that the vehicle is not strictly electric, but instead produces its electricity from the vehicle’s on-board gas-powered generator. Nevertheless it’s evident GM is looking to the future as it the American automaker is in the process of electrifying more of its fleet, and worries such restrictions would cast a negative light on the EV market that is still somewhat in its infancy.

Early last month, Washington State passed Senate Bill 5251, which was introduced by Mary Haugen, the Senate’s transportation committee chairwoman. The fee — which is still subject to a vote by Washington’s House of Representatives — is estimated to add as much as $1.9 million to the state’s budget by 2017.

Of course proponents of SB 6455 contend that while EVs may not run on gasoline — and therefore not subject to the state’s current 37.5 cent a gallon fuel tax (the states largest source of transportation dollars) – they do however share the same roads as gasoline-powered vehicles and cause the same wear and tear. Therefore, it only makes sense that EV drivers pay their part. At the same time, while such a tax seems more than fair, you have to wonder how much it would actually cost the state  to collect said taxes when — at the moment at least — there are so few electric cars on the road. 

Other states such as Kansas, Oregon, and Arizona are also seeking ways to offset expected revenue loss over less gas taxes being collected as more and more electric vehicles enter the roads.