The Science of Sustainability

Clean Car Diaries: Should Electric Car Drivers Be Taxed?

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While EV drivers may be doing a lot for the environment, some folks say we are getting a free ride by not paying a gas tax. As more and more EVs roll out, the question posed by some is how are we contributing to the roads we drive on?

Nissan Leaf on Bay BridgeNearly half a dozen states are considering some type of fee for electric car drivers. Legislators in the state of Washington killed a proposed flat $100 annual tax. Oregon has one of the most robust, growing EV markets and policy makers there are considering a road user fee based on miles traveled. Bills have also been proposed in Kansas, Arizona and Utah.

Obviously, the gas tax is important, besides maintaining our crumbling roads and bridges, it funds mass transit. The 18 cents a gallon federal gas tax hasn't been raised since 1993 and it is unlikely in this election year it will be increased. Still I feel, as an early adopter, we are dealing with so many hassles that it seems unfair to tax us right now. There are so few public chargers out there and it takes so long to charge that my route is mainly from my house to my work. I pay a toll to use the bridge to get to work.

When there are more chargers, more electric cars out there and the cost of electric cars comes down then maybe we can talk about fairness. Right now it seems too early. Let us know what you think: tax or no tax?

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About the Author ()

Andrea is KQED's Senior Science Editor . Andrea was born in Los Angeles and discovered radio news through listening to her college radio station. With a curious mind and a love for telling stories, she set off for Tampa where she landed her first job as a reporter for Florida Public Radio. After three years reporting in an unbearably humid climate and a brief stint as a miscast opera reporter, Andrea returned to L.A. to work for public radio, then for television news and finally as a reporter for CBS radio. Andrea has been at KQED for over twelve years, working first as a producer for Forum, and then as the senior producer for The California Report. She is now KQED's Senior Science and Environment Editor and narrates the QUEST television program. Andrea says she feels lucky to cover emerging science and environmental trends in a place where geek is chic.
  • Anonymous

    All cars should be taxed, on the basis of weight. Weight makes for a vehicular arms race. Weight makes for greater gas usage. Weight is harder on roads increasing maintenance cost. Weight makes even electric cars draw more power to get moving; upstream that electricity has an environmental cost. Less weight will lower gas usage and electricity usage.

    If weight punishes an idle car's owner, then base tax on weight plus annual odometer reading.