State Sen. James Whelan, D-Atlantic, has certainly done his political credentials no good with an absolutely crazy idea to charge electric car motorists by the mile. He has already put forward his bill, which would initially see electric car motorists charged 0.00839 cents per mile. However, there is more to this idea, which has left the politician open to ridicule in some quarters!
This is not the first time that politicians have tried to intervene in the federal government's attempt to increase the sales of electric vehicles. Quite how introducing a new tax which would effectively negate any benefits of electric car travel could help the industry is a mystery, especially when you bear in mind the billions of dollars which have already been invested in electric cars.
Should electric vehicles pay more for road maintenance?
While the initial bill put forward by State Sen. James Whelan has attracted ridicule, we may well look back on this in years to come and see this as the start of the slippery slope to the introduction of new electric car taxes. The idea that electric cars will pay a lesser tax due to the way in which their relative fuels are purchased compared to gasoline vehicles should in theory become less of a problem as more electric cars are sold. However, for the foreseeable future there is no doubt that tax income from sales of gasoline will contribute significantly more to the upkeep of American roads.
So while it is certainly too early to try and penalises electric car motorists with new taxes, bearing in mind the federal government's ambitions on electric car sales, will this type of bill emerge again in the future?
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "In February, 2012, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a tax on Electric Vehicles aimed at making up for lost gasoline tax revenues. The measure includes Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) and Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSVs) as well as plug-in electric vehicles from major automakers."
Crazy details to the Bill
While the headlines of the proposed bill will start many arguments and discussions across the country, and indeed across the world, the details of the bill do the politician no favours at all. It is proposed, assuming that this bill actually makes it to law (when in reality it has zero chance), that motorists will effectively monitor their own milage and submit a return to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission on an annual basis.
The suggestion is they will be fined for late reporting of "motoring miles" although the fact that there is no way in which these can be checked by any third party is obviously a major concern. This potential problem was answered with a quote "We'd hoped people would be honest". Well, this bureaucratic nightmare would take up an enormous amount of time on behalf of individuals and indeed the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Would it actually be worth the amount of tax it may or may not bring in?
Supporters of the electric car industry will point to this development and this proposed bill as the start of a slippery slope to further taxes for electric car drivers. The fact is that governments around the world have invested billions of dollars in the industry, so why on earth would they allow one politician to potentially spoil it?
It is unlikely we will see any material taxes make it to law with regards to electric car drivers in the short to medium term, but the situation could be very different in the longer term. At some point governments around the world will need to replace the tax received on gasoline/petrol sales and bearing in mind that electric cars, and other technologies in the future, will in theory be replacing gasoline vehicles, it makes sense for the taxation losses to be made up by charging electric car drivers.