Washington State has spent a lot of effort over the past few years enticing people to buy electric cars over old school gas-guzzlers. In addition to a tax incentive from the federal government, the state has exempted sales tax on the purchase of electric vehicles. In other words, it’s a great deal to buy a car that uses less gas.
People buy hybrid or electric cars for one of two reasons: To save money or to appear cool. People that actually want to save the planet ride bikes, not drive coal-powered cars.
To the hipsters, a tax on electric vehicles might not be a huge issue. These people might even feel that paying higher taxes for the privilege of driving a Prius makes them even cooler.
For the rest of us, buying a fuel-efficient vehicle is purely economical.
In our still-shaky economy, a $7,500 tax credit for buying a hybrid or electric car can be pretty enticing, not to mention the ever-rising gasoline prices. With gas costing over $4 a gallon and no relief in sight, more people than ever are willing to buy a car that can go up to 100 miles before needing an eight-hour recharge.
Since we’re not allowed to extract very much of our own oil, and tensions in the Middle East are causing prices to rise, it's doubtful that fuel prices are going to come down anytime soon. Which means that people are going to be thrilled to buy fuel-efficient cars.
At least until it’s no longer financially feasible to do so. Washington State is now considering a tax on electric and hybrid cars to deal with their $5 billion deficit. As it turns out, they don’t have enough money to maintain their roadways. They’re not getting enough tax revenue from fuel sales after giving incentives to buy more fuel-efficient cars.
So Washington is doing the sensible thing and introducing a bill to tax electric car owners for owning electric cars.
"Electric vehicles put just as much wear and tear on our roads as gas vehicles," said Democratic state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, the bill's lead sponsor. "This simply ensures that they contribute their fair share to the upkeep of our roads."
I thought that one of the main reasons to buy an electric car was to use less oil. After all, won’t polar bears come hug you and stuff? So why should people driving SUVs not have to pay the extra money to maintain the roads? Isn’t that only fair? Aren’t SUV drivers the ones destroying the environment? Why shouldn’t they pay more?
Either our government believes driving electric cars will save the planet, or they don’t. If they don’t, why did they give tax incentives in the first place? If they do, why would they charge responsible Leaf drivers a tax now?
The whole thing reeks of inconsistency.
Image via wssst/Flickr