Majority of voters favor gasoline-car phaseout. But all-electric goal faces tough opposition.
Voters should not have any illusions about the looming electric-vehicle transformation. After all, President Obama’s plan for a million EV sales a year in about five years was just a pipe dream five years ago. But today, with hundreds of thousands of plug-in cars on U.S. roads and more on the way, it may be a reality.
Many states have chosen to eliminate sales taxes on electric cars. California, for instance, repealed the sales tax on plug-in vehicles in 2008 and now taxes them the same as gas vehicles, a rate of between 0.36 and 0.43 percent. In New Jersey, which also abolished the sales tax on plug-in cars, the tax rate is now zero.
In Massachusetts, where the sales tax exemption for plug-in vehicles was expanded earlier this year, the state is considering an increase in the state sales tax to fund an infrastructure grant to support the sales tax exemption. Proponents say this will lead to a virtuous cycle: sales would grow, and the state would see a boost in revenue. This year, New Jersey is in the middle of its first EV sales tax refund.
While there may be new momentum in the electric-car market, the transformation will not come easily or quickly. While EV sales are increasing in North America and Europe, they are falling in China and India, where the government has mandated that all new vehicles sold there must be electric-only. China has nearly doubled the size of its EV market since 2007, but sales so far have not caught up worldwide.
But this is likely to change as electric vehicles (EVs) become cheaper to create, as demand for zero-emission vehicles expands, and governments around the world look for ways to recoup their costs in clean-air legislation and fuel taxes. After decades of subsidies and political lobbying, it may be cheaper to mandate that cars be electric, with governments building charging stations rather than paying for them.
Many experts agree that the United States has a good chance of having electric-vehicle sales overtake gasoline-driven car sales in the next decade or so.
“Right now, we have a problem with the distribution network,” says