Who's right? Georgia wants EV owners to pay more, Oregon wants them to pay less

Electric car charging station
CC BY 2.0 Flickr

Progress rarely happens in a straight line, or even in a linear fashion. It's two steps forward, one step back. There are long periods of seemingly nothing happening, and then there's a leap forward over a short period of time. That's why forecasters are almost always wrong, and why short-term anecdotes can be misleading about the long-term trend.

A good example of this one-two, one-two dance can be seen with how various jurisdictions treat electric cars. The rational way to look at it would be to realize that traditional automakers and the oil industry have received ginormous support over many decades, with massive direct and indirect subsidies (including military deployments and even wars to keep cheap oil flowing). Altogether, there's probably hundreds of billions of dollars on that side of the ledger, just for the US. So it would make sense to compensate a little bit by supporting the young EV industry, at least until it's mature enough to stand on its own.

© AVEQ

Until now, Georgia got that. Thanks to state level incentives ($5,000), combined with some federal tax credits, Georgia was a leader, and Atlanta was one of the cities in the US with the most electric vehicles. But the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction now, and the state legislature is taking the ax to that successful program, "a move budget analysts say will contribute $66 million to the state's coffers in 2016 and nearly $190 million by 2020."

But it's worse than that: "Legislators are adding a $200-a-year annual fee for owners to offset the loss of gasoline taxes that drivers would otherwise pay to maintain roads." So not only at they removing incentives, they are actually taxing EVs, a move that can't help but slow down adoption.

Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Oh well. More support would be nice, and would help level the playing field (because of all the support, direct and indirect, going the other way), but EVs will get there on their own. Electric motors are simply more efficient, quieter, have more torque, are more responsive. Fewer moving parts and fluids lead to higher reliability. Nobody likes going to the gas station, and electric cars just charge overnight except on long trips, which for most people happen fairly rarely. And prices are coming down and driving ranges going up, so even those concerns will go away.

The main question is "how fast do we get there?", and in this case, Oregon is on the right side of history. The 2015 Legislature is considering House Bill 2092, which would award rebates to Oregonians who buy electric vehicles. The numbers on the table are $3,000 to buyers of electric cars, and $1,500 to buyers of plug-in hybrids.

Via Vice, Portland Business Journal

Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles

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