For the past year, the state of Washington has been examining the possibility of putting a $100 annual surcharge on electric vehicle registrations.
A contentious issue, the house bill proposed to help the state recoup tax dollars lost as more people switch from gas-guzzling cars to plug-in and hybrid cars.
Many of Washington State’s electric car owners understand and support the tax, but the proposed legislation has found a new enemy in the form of General Motors.
In a public letter last week to Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, GM Director of Government Affairs Hal Lenox pleaded with the state to not bring bill into law.
Acknowledging that Washington State has a positive record when it comes to alternative fuel vehicle support, Lenox pointed out that the experiences of early-adopting electric car drivers are essential to the spread of the technology.
“Some studies also note that market demand can be greatly influenced by the experiences and opinions of the early adopters of this technology,” he explained.
If those experiences were bad however, Lenox warned electric car adoption would slow. “Conversely, a fee which singles out electric vehicles will be a disincentive to the growth of the electric vehicle market in Washington State.”
2012 Chevrolet Volt
Turning to the financial interests of the state, Lenox’s letter appeals to Governor Gregoire’s fiscal side.
“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,” he wrote, pointing out that if passed, the legislation would fail to collect much revenue given current electric car ownership rates in the state.
Moreover he argued, GM believed there was a better way to ensure that any road user pays a proportional amount towards road upkeep, regardless of their car’s fuel.
“We believe that all beneficiaries of the [road] system should pay their fair share of the costs for preserving, operating and improving the statewide transportation system,” he concluded, offering GM’s support to help develop a fairer road taxation system if Washington drops the legislation.
Obviously, GM’s intervention isn’t just out of the goodness of its corporate heart.
Thanks to cities like Seattle, Washington is known for its support of plug-in vehicles and hybrids.
As a consequence, GM stands to lose potential 2012 Chevrolet Volt customers if the $100 electric car tax bill is passed into law.
The question is, will GM’s intervention work? Is this a big issue, or is GM just scared of losing more sales at a time when Volt production has been temporarily halted to cope with low demand?
Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.