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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Why a $32-million tax break for electric car drivers is worth it

Tesla Model 3
A Tesla sales representative holds the door open for a woman about to take a Model 3 electric vehicle on a test drive in San Diego.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

To the editor: As an electric vehicle driver since 2017 and someone who’s driven vehicles with at least 40 mpg since 1990, I’d gladly pay $100 a year to the state to help maintain roads, and so should others exempt from the additional fees and gasoline tax required by Senate Bill 1.

But there are more than 25 million registered automobiles in California and only 320,000 electric cars, so let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees on this. The lost revenue of $32 million should be measured against the tangible benefits of having more zero-emission vehicles.

Also, if we pay workers more equitable wages, they can afford more efficient cars, but I see plenty of luxury vehicles on our roads, especially as income inequality grows. Why is electric vehicle affordability so often discussed when virtually nothing is said about drivers who can easily afford these cars but do not buy them?

Paul Spitzzeri, Chino Hills

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To the editor: Is the $100 fee for zero-emissions vehicle reasonable? Consider this.

Paying $100 in gas fees at the 17.6 cents per gallon added by SB 1 would require the purchase of 568 gallons of gasoline per year. If your car gets 20 mpg, that would be 11,000 miles of driving. If it got 40 mpg, you would have to drive 22,000 miles.

Most people don’t drive 22,000 miles in a year, but some drive more than that.

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A $100 fee seems reasonable, but it should be retroactive to all electric car owners.

Dennis Arntz, Laguna Niguel

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To the editor: Arguing that electric vehicle drivers should in effect pay a gas tax is as counterintuitive as arguing that non-smokers should pay a cigarette tax.

Taxes can and should be used to guide consumer choices in the direction of the greater good. Effectively raising the price of cigarettes helps decrease cigarette smoking. Raising the price of gasoline encourages consumers to find modes of transportation that burn less gas.

In the same way that policies resulting in fewer cigarette smokers is of general benefit to our collective health, so too are policies that result in fewer consumers of gasoline.

If you want to ask electric vehicle users to contribute to the maintenance of transportation infrastructure, call it what it is, a driver’s tax, and charge by the mile.

Robert Ramsey, Los Angeles


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