The state of Georgia recently reversed its policy of encouraging EV adoption, not only eliminating its $5,000 tax credit for plug-in purchases, but saddling drivers with a yearly $200 road-use fee to boot. The leader of a local pro-EV group is considering a class-action lawsuit against the state.
“We will challenge the state for discriminating against electric vehicles, for arbitrarily creating a fee without any scientific or economical due diligence,” said EV Club of the South President Michael Beinenson (via Neighbor Newspaper).
Beinenson pointed out that an EV driver who drives 12,000 miles per year will pay about the same amount that an SUV driver will pay in gas taxes. “Why am I penalized for driving a clean vehicle with domestically produced energy? I have to pay like it’s a Chevy Suburban.”
Jeff Cohen, founder of the Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition, believes the fee could jeopardize Atlanta’s standing as one of the country’s hottest EV markets. “Georgians bought 10,500 EVs in 2014, and I would forecast that number again for 2015,” he said. “[Next year] will be the tell-tale year when EV sales will fall off dramatically and EV drivers make decisions about dumping their cars.”
State Senator Brandon Beach, however, said the fee is reasonable. “They are putting wear and tear on our roads and not paying anything while the people in traditional gasoline vehicles are paying taxes,” said he. “We thought that was a fair compromise, and we think $200 is a fair number.”
Ironically, State Representative Chuck Martin, who introduced the legislation that eliminated the longstanding tax credit, agrees that the fee is high. “The $200 fee was not my suggestion at all and I didn’t vote for the bill,” he said. “Just comparing the fee to the amount of fuel excise tax that is paid by a normal car, I would agree, that seems high.”
Meanwhile, a recent report from the Center for State and Local Finance (via Green Car Reports) examined the effects of the tax credit, which took effect in 1998. The report found that almost all of the credits were claimed by buyers in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and that the program cost the state around $14.2 million in lost tax revenue in 2014.
The report also considers the impact of the new fee: “Assuming an average of 23 miles per gallon, the $200 fee means Georgia’s electric drivers would have to travel 14,000 miles to break even on what would otherwise have been their gas tax liability.”