Fuel tax is 43 cents a litre. Australian cars right now avg about 13.1 litres per 100km. So you're looking at ~$5.6 per 100km for fuel tax.
This tax is adding $2.5 tax per 100km for electric.
Right now, EVs are absolutely creating an regressive tax situation with regards to fuel. Those who can afford to buy newer, efficient cars can usually save money on tax over those who can't. For electric, it was worse - because they do tend to be more expensive to purchase up front, and they paid no fuel tax at all.
And frankly, infrastructure is expensive, and governments need to plan on continuing to maintain it.
That said - I think the only real answer here is a more thorough overhaul of how you tax road usage. Perhaps it's time to ditch the fuel excise tax entirely, and tax all drivers based on (vehicle weight * kms driven * some constant).
Encourage drivers to move to lighter vehicles which cause less wear and tear on the road, and drop the disparity between fuel and electric. They both use the same tires.
I read somewhere that road damage caused by vehicles is not linear with weight. Heavy vehicles do much more damage. I can't cite a source, but I recall an exponent between 3 and 4 on the leading term. With that in mind, everything but heavy freight is basically negligible. And then it's generally for businesses where privacy isn't so much of an issue.
The last time this was posted I dug in to this and it appeared as though 2 vs 4 tires per axle was not tested, in the original or follow up paper usually referenced. They were testing trucks vs trucks with the same axle type, but different numbers of axles (hence axle weight instead of vehicle weight).
It could be that four tires on a truck axle are much more effective at spreading the weight than two car tires. Or it could be that it's not much better, as the forces are still placed on a relatively small area of asphalt.
How this makes cars and trucks compare is, as far as I could understand from the literature when I dug in to it, an untested open question.
There could be a 10,000 factor difference. Or if two tires at each end are spreading the weight over 2x the surface area and you assume that matters, then you have to divide that 10,000 by 2^4 and it's now only 625x as damaging.
I suspect the reason nobody cares enough to test this is that it would still be a gap large enough to make cars insignificant.
Right, because you don't double up the two front wheels which are used for steering. I suspect that more weight is put on the rear and trailer axles than the front as well, and that two tires in close proximity aren't as good as two tires separated by greater distance. So even 1000x is probably optimistic.
My main point though is just that the study happened to use truck axles as a measurement and that can't blindly be substituted for car axles. The back of the napkin math is just there to show the difference it can potentially make.
The 4th power claim is alarming, yes. But are we focused too much on road wear and not enough on the money spent to increase the capacity of roads? My gut says that widening a road is at least an order of magnitude more expensive than maintaining one, so whatever we can do to reduce the number of cars is more worthy of focus than just getting all the trucks off the road.
There is one issue though. Bike lanes tend to require better road conditions for people to want to use them. Roads do degrade over time due to weather. This means that the difference between a vehicle at x weight vs no vehicle at all will be negligible. I don't know what the x is though.
the vast majority of road degredation isn't due to weather, its due to weight wear. As heavy vehicles travel down the road, they create a "ripple" on the road surface in front of the axle. You can create a similar effect if you run your hand across a loose sheet on top of your bed (you will see the wrinkle in the sheet in front if your hand). This bending is the method of road wear that causes like 99% of the maintenance need.
Weather alone does very little. Weather + road ware makes things dramatically worse much faster. You can see this effect with private driveways in the north vs public roads in the south assuming similar construction.
As someone who migrated to upstate new york from Florida, I disagree. People here are constantly repaving, repairing, and resurfacing their driveways and sidewalks. While you need an initialization crack, that can come from a host of issues other than heavy vehicles including thermal cycling and initial defects. I will note that the asphalt and concrete construction may be different in the south vs. the north, but there is much much more driveway repair up here than there was in Florida.
As a pedantic side note, this is why your batteries die, the copper leads begins to fatigue and fracture due to stresses from thermal cycling.
No, the batteries "die" because cold weather requires more energy to start the car and batteries are far less effective when cold. (Physically they die either from grid corrosion increasing resistance so they can't provide enough current to start or the plates shedding active material to the point where they can't hold enough charge). There is normally not any copper in a standard car starter battery.
While I may disagree with GP about the exact method of wear, regional differences are mostly due to construction not weather or wear. Roads ~50km west of us look almost new, while ours usually develop potholes or at minimum cracks, within a year. It's a different country, so different standards.
Confirmation bias to the fourth power. A person just told you that an average truck of which you see plenty on the roads, does a couple thousand times the damage of a car and your response is: "Let's get all the cars of the road because a bicycle does no damage at all compared to cars"
A quick search suggests that a semi truck without trailer weighs between 10 and 25 tons. Those are usually 3-axle, so that's between about 125 and 4800 units of damage. That's still a massive amount when compared to the 1 unit of damage for a sedan.
Add an empty trailer and you get 35 tons (5 axles, 2400 units of damage). US max allowed is 80 tons, for a whopping 65,536 units of damage.
I don't know how full they are, but I see 5-axle tractor-trailers on highways all the time in the US, and also locally doing last-mile deliveries to larger businesses like supermarkets and home improvement stores.
I guess the differences in allowed weights might account for why US roads are often in worse shape than many in Europe, though I assume vastly different maintenance schedules play a large part as well.
Nowhere did they suggest that they want to get rid of all cars ever.
The principle that shifting traffic from cars to bikes saves money for the government is a sound one. There'll always be a need for cars for some things -- probably not gonna have ambulance bikes, and of course deliveries for anything big needs a car/truck -- but you can certainly reduce the need. Especially with ebikes making biking more convenient and accessible.
Americans moving to Tokyo largely give up cars and switch to public transport and walking. This isn't because there's a welcome committee of Japanese people shaming them out of driving; it's because driving works less well there, and public transit much better.
The point isn't to individually shame unwilling people out of their cars. The point is to make biking a real, viable transportation mode for short/medium distance trips for most people in urban or suburban areas. It's entirely possible to do this with the right infrastructure.
Once you do that, people will choose biking of their own accord, because it makes sense.
I noticed while driving to Tahoe the last time that the right lane on the mountain roads was absolutely trashed in the tire path. I assume this is mostly due to chain usage, but it was incredibly more present in the right lane where semis drive.
And, by implication, they're a massively higher contributor to local pollution. I was surprised to learn that most road pollution is no longer generated by tailpipes, but by the grinding of brake, tire, and road into dust through friction. Vehicle weight has an outsized effect there too.
A very substantial portion of truck freight in countries like Australia and the USA is inter-city—almost all, for larger semi-trailers and B-doubles. But for inter-city freight, rail is much cheaper than road, once you account for all costs, rather than allowing society and passenger cars to subsidise the roads for trucks.
Road damage isn't the only issue with weight though.
There's safety, exhaust emissions, tyre and brake particles, noise, etc. I'm sure some of them don't have a linear relationship either.
One of the biggest upsides to taxing vehicle weight could be to counter purchasing decisions that have shifted to larger vehicles that no longer comfortably fit in parking spaces but ride better over ridiculous speed bumps and give drivers literally the opportunity to look down on others.
Taxing vehicle weight also doesn't have the privacy implications that taxing miles driven beyond fuel consumption does. It's always struck me as one of the more sensible aspects to tax.
This entire thread is flawed in two fundamental ways:
1) The primary concern here is per capita road damage. If that's agreed, why is the conversation not about improving the resiliency of roads?
2) Why would the adoption of new technology automatically subject you to draconian taxes that have nothing to do with that new technology? I understand infrastructure needs to be paid for, but this is simply a cash-grab by politicians. If people started jogging to destinations rather than use cars, would it be acceptable for the government to charge a "jogging transportation tax"?
This is true, but some portion of road maintenance costs is independent from vehicle-caused wear-and-tear on the actual road surface. You would want this portion to be paid also by standard, non-commercial vehicles since these users are clearly receiving some value from the existence of a well-maintained road.
Everybody is receiving benefits from well maintained roads, just like everyone is receiving benefits from schools. Why special taxes for users unless you want to discourage use? Just pay for maintenance from the general budget.
This, and it also subsidizes people’s decisions to live far away from where they work and commute by car every day. There was a time when I think that would have been seen as a public good, and thus people were ok with that. Now is not that time.
Comparing this with free public education, by not charging user fees to attend school, we are subsidizing (a) having children, and (b) educating them at the expense of the childless and I guess people who don’t want to educate their kids. We subsidize those because we believe they are truly public goods that are better for everyone in the long run. Encouraging people to drive more and ship more things by truck is not necessarily better for everyone.
That’s an interesting take. I mostly think of it in terms of urban sprawl - if it weren’t for the massive multi-lane freeways leading out to the countryside, people would live in higher-density housing close to city centers and transit hubs, and businesses would locate there as well. You’d still have a lot of choice about where to work, you’d just get there by bike, or train, or bus, or on foot. That’s how it is in Japan, Korea and most places in Europe I’ve been.
Most public schools I have been a part of charge "optional" fees. There seems to be constant fund-raising for both extracurricular activities and general school funds as well as requests from students for classroom supplies. The bulk of the funding comes from the school taxes.
Definitely, the first thing we heard when our kid started in pubic school was “public school is not free,” meaning that the parent committee expects lots of donations to offer enrichment.
That said, you should listen to the podcast “Nice White Parents.” It points out that this model of underfunding the schools and making up for it with donations is essentially letting wealthy families buy their way out of the problem while leaving disadvantaged students behind.
In a sense, every company externalizes some costs to society. At the same time, society tends to benefit from their existence more than just the service they provide. It would be very difficult to try to balance out those numbers.
Trade and economy are vital for a modern society though. If costs were instead born by the shipping companies they'd be put into the price of goods sold.
I can't help but see this as a regressive use tax in many ways, since it'll likely apply to lower value items at a higher proportion which is what poorer people would be buying. The end user pays in either case, but doing it through taxation policy allows for a measured approach.
It’s a little bit regressive as you mention, but forcing the users to pay also encourages businesses to find ways to economize and thus minimize the impact of the tax on their customers. It’s also less regressive to pass along a small amount of tax in the cost of items (the portion of the cost of most things we buy made up by transportation costs is very small, and the tax is a small portion of that), than it is to burden car-less poor people with the cost of building roads that they don’t drive on.
That actually sounds sensible so maybe you're right.
Here in Sydney we just opened a tolled tunnel, and to ease congestion up above on the older commuter road all trucks must use this tunnel. I don't know all the factors but it sounds like the best option for the people, they have a choice and trucks pay their way.
Externalizing the cost of using a national transportation network. I don’t think there is any citizen who doesn’t benefit from a national transportation network. How else do they get the food they buy, clothes they wear, etc?
But now you're making a statement which is too general.
There is no benefit to discouraging use of highways at night, or uncongested suburban/rural roads. The thing you really want to prevent is congestion.
And even that is not inherently best solved through punitive fees. If you can reduce congestion by e.g. building more housing near where people work so they don't have to commute as far, that's preferable to levying fees the drivers can't avoid because a viable alternative to a long commute isn't actually available.
Sometimes turning a four lane road into a six lane road really does resolve the congestion, even accounting for the increase in use that comes from the reduction in congestion. And then you don't gain anything by discouraging use there.
The number of cases where you actually want to discourage use is very small, to the point that they may not even really exist, given that most uses are productive (and already have to overcome the inherent cost in fuel and time). The best case for it would be something like Manhattan during rush hour, but even there you might be better off to use the carrot instead of the stick and e.g. stop charging fees for use of the subway.
I don’t have good citations handy, but it’s generally accepted that the construction of the American interstate freeway system after WWII was the primary enabler of the mass exodus of the white middle class to the suburbs, and the subsequent abandonment of people of color in inner cities for several generations.
Furthermore, continuing to build more travel lanes to alleviate congestion has been shown to simply lead to more traffic. It’s a circular problem.
We are finally seeing this turn around in a very painful way in Silicon Valley. There’s no longer political will, nor is there tax revenue, to keep expanding the highways. As a result, commute times have gone up dramatically. As a further result, over the past decade, I’ve watched previously undesirable near suburbs like Sunnyvale and Santa Clara be bid up dramatically in housing price as people have realized that spending 3 hours per day in their car isn’t worth having a giant house with a giant yard in the far south suburbs like Morgan Hill and Gilroy.
> I don’t have good citations handy, but it’s generally accepted that the construction of the American interstate freeway system after WWII was the primary enabler of the mass exodus of the white middle class to the suburbs, and the subsequent abandonment of people of color in inner cities for several generations.
This is like arguing against rope because it was the primary enabler of lynchings.
> Furthermore, continuing to build more travel lanes to alleviate congestion has been shown to simply lead to more traffic. It’s a circular problem.
It isn't. What those studies are showing is that congestion suppresses demand, so if you relieve some of the congestion, some of the demand comes back. So to relieve congestion you'd need enough lanes to carry not the existing level of traffic, but the amount there would be if there wasn't any congestion suppressing it.
This is clearly demonstrated in China where they build multi-lane highways to nowhere as a jobs program and then traffic does not magically appear to fill them.
The problem is that in some places, satisfying all of the demand by only increasing the number of travel lanes would require like twenty travel lanes, which isn't ideal. But that doesn't mean you can't reduce congestion there by adding travel lanes, only that you need other solutions there too. Add a travel lane or two but not ten, build more housing closer to businesses so people don't have to commute as far, stop charging user fees for mass transit etc. By doing these things together you can alleviate congestion without needing twenty lane highways.
> We are finally seeing this turn around in a very painful way in Silicon Valley.
The problem there is totally unambiguously not "insufficient highways" and is in fact "insufficient housing" which induces those long commutes for whoever can't afford the existing housing close to the city where the jobs are (and also outrageous housing costs for the housing that is, because nobody wants that commute). Build more housing.
But for Australia specifically (this article being about Australia), frost damage to roads is typically either non-existent or negligible. There aren’t many roads that are exposed to substantially freezing conditions often.
I object to this being framed in terms of vehicle mass, because what counts most is mass/area = ground pressure. Many big fat tires distribute the weight.
It is also much more relevant in places with sub-zero nights, i.e. a thaw/frost cycle. In relatively warm places like Australia this effect does not occur. Roads are much cheaper per km than in places with snow/ice, even with heavy vehicles.
You can also sidestep the privacy issue there, because large electric vehicles are likely to need special chargers. (How many kW do you need to charge a 1MWh battery in a reasonable amount of time?) And then you can levy road tax on large trucks per kWh at the charging point in the traditional way without even having to track everywhere they go.
How much privacy concern is there to have your odometer reading recorded annually in places that already do safety inspections? I mean, I've driven an average of 3400 miles per year on my car. Violate my privacy as much as you like with that data.
There have been proposals to track the location of trucks at all times, presumably so that a truck that drives all over the country is paying road fees in the states where it's actually driving instead of to whatever other state it's registered in (which would presumably be the one with the lowest fees). Levying the fees at the charging point replicates the existing (imperfect but pretty good) model with fuel tax because you at least have to charge somewhere that you're actually driving that day, without the privacy implications of tracking the vehicle at all times.
This was one of the argued motivation for introducing the Platon system in Russia in addition to the fuel tax. It's an electronic toll system mandatory for trucks over 12 tons and costs every such truck ~5 USD cents per traveled km. Unfortunately it does not take into account current mass of a truck (probably because it's much harder to control and easier to cheat). Part of the proceedings goes to a federal fund for road maintenance, another one to the company (partially owned by an oligarch close to Putin) which has developed the system and currently maintenance it. This concession will work until 2027.
I think you misunderstand what the road tax (or any other tax) is for.
There are three main reasons for a tax to exist:
1. To bring revenue
2. To create incentive
3. Social justice (or illusion of it)
Revenue from a specific tax is almost never used for a specific purpose. All revenue goes into a large bin from which the government takes to finance everything.
Revenue from fuel/road tax is not used to finance building roads. Infrastructure is financed from budget or by private companies who then can impose tolls on road users.
Fuel tax (besides obvious goal of creating revenue) is there to create incentive to drive less and to drive more efficiently (using less fuel). This is not to preserve roads but rather to preserve capacity and environment.
I can only assume that tax on electric vehicles is as a response to increasing use of EVs. Initially, EVs were exempted from taxes to create incentive to use them more. Now that it is pretty clear EVs took off and will be widespread no matter what, some countries start to remove those exemptions to ensure continuing revenue stream.
I'm not sure how it works in your country, but in the US fuel taxes don't go to the general pot, they end up in a specific fund called the Highway Trust Fund that's specifically earmarked for transportation infrastructure and maintenance.
Even if it does, the amount of money allocated from the general fund toward transportation maintenance is surely lower than it would be if those fuel taxes were not there.
Unless an earmark pays 100% of the costs of something, the earmark is totally an illusion. Even if it does pay 100% of the costs, it is often mostly an illusion.
In practice, most earmarks fall into the former category, and thus are entirely about manipulating the public. Not that I'm necessarily objecting to manipulating the public.
If fuel taxes bring in $100, which is spent on road maintenance, and then topped up by $40 of money from general revenue, that implies that the government thinks that $140 is the point at which marginal benefit drops below marginal cost. In other words, if there was no fuel tax, they'd probably still try to spend $140, or thereabouts. The earmark is entirely illusory.
If fuel taxes bring in $100, which is spent on road maintenance, and is not topped up, then that implies that the government thinks that the point at which marginal benefit drops below marginal cost is some number below $100. If there was no fuel tax, their spending on road maintenance would go down. Go down to what? Let us suppose that it would go down to $60. Then the fuel tax earmark is 40% reality, 60% illusion.
It’s worth pointing out that fuel taxes were sufficient to keep the US highway trust fund self-sufficient for over 50 years. Recently, there’s been a shortfall that has required infusions of cash from the general fund.
Exactly. It doesn't matter where a dollar comes from when it has to be spent anyway.
Think about it.
Scenario a) X dollars from fuel tax are revenue for federal budget. Federal budget decides whatever it wants to do with the money, but roads require Y dollars for maintenance.
Scenario b) X dollars are earmarked for road maintenance. Federal budget can't do anything else with the money but spent them on road maintenance. Roads require Y dollars for maintenance. X is covered from earmarked revenue, and the difference comes from federal budget.
Did ANYTHING change between scenarios? In both cases taxpayers paid X dollars of fuel tax and Y dollars for road maintenance.
Earmarking tax revenue for a cause that requires greater amount of money and would be covered anyway is just PR mechanism to placate people / opposing party. Opposing party might know it is just illusion but still needs to placate their own constituents.
The goal of this is to create another tax revenue stream without angering your voters. And so we complicate what is relatively simple so that general population thinks the tax is for their benefit. It still is but for a different reasons.
It’s worth noting that for over 50 years, the trust fund was fully self-sufficient with no general fund contributions. There’s been a shortfall in recent years because Congress is reluctant to increase the gas tax. As fleet fuel economy continues to increase, the tax revenue per mile driven continues to fall.
I don’t see what difference it makes if certain taxes are earmarked for certain expenses. Any shortfall is made up by increasing taxes and/or increasing taxpayer debt, any surplus will result in less assistance from other taxes or get directed elsewhere.
> Initially, EVs were exempted from taxes to create incentive to use them more. Now that it is pretty clear EVs took off and will be widespread no matter what, some countries start to remove those exemptions to ensure continuing revenue stream.
I suspect that EVs weren't exempted by design, but just slipped through the gap. Australian road tax is applied to petrol/gasoline/diesel. The number of EVs hasn't warranted changing this formula (the alternative being a tax on kms traveled). In Australia, EVs still haven't taken off (as there haven't been any incentives to buy them; in fact as they tend to be expensive, they often fall under the luxury car category and get taxed even more), so there are still very, very few on the road. It's very slowly changing, and this change is definitely looking into the next decade more that the next year, but still strikes me as odd timing - just when momentum is building to EVs, this will dull that momentum (at least without an incentive to _purchase_ an EV.
One of the simplest arguments against it to me is basically to look at the landscape. For example, in the US, ballpark 1% of cars are electric. Meanwhile, the flat federal fuel tax is not indexed to inflation & hasn't been increased in almost thirty years. Yet everyone is in this panic about how EVs are going to cause a huge revenue shortfall!? I'm not opposed to EVs paying their share, but something is rotten in Denmark.
Anyway, shifting fuel taxes onto tires might make sense. All cars use tires, no matter the fuel, it requires no odometer reading, and a tire has a designed application & load range which ought to translate reasonably well to anticipated road wear.
First, pretty sure it’s been discussed here previously(edit: and is down thread), but I believe the wear on the road is like the 4th power of the weight. here’s a chart describing it. with that considered, I don’t think it makes sense to even really charge passenger vehicles in the US, when we have huge fleets of 80k pound big rigs on the road(and the limit is uncapped with overweight permits)—charge them.
Second, the problem with tires is that depending on what and where you drive you’ll use them considerably faster. I live a few miles down a very windy chip-sealed road, that I have to drive down any time I go anywhere. As a result(best I can tell) my tires tend to go bald 10k-20k miles early. Chip seal is used because it is cheap, seems regressive that I’d be taxed at a higher rate for a poorer road.
Who says you should tax directly based on wear anyway? The bigger scarcity is often traffic in any case. Some roads have higher costs than others. etc.
Maybe we want to lower transport costs by charging trucks less. Maybe we want to encourage electric car viability by charging them less. I mean, tax policies have outcomes. Doesn't it make sense to target outcomes we want?
Obviously the road needs to be paid for and fuel taxes won't work if people don't buy fuel. That said, I think it's inevitable that whatever comes next is a policy... encourage some stuff, discourage other stuff, benefit certain people/sectors and such. ATM, encouraging electric vehicle adoption with a fuel tax exemption doesn't seem crazy.
It does create a regressive dynamic, where new electrics are subsidized by legacy ICE. By the time that represents more than a rounding error the fuel tax deficit will be big enough that the tax system will be changing anyway.
A better approach is probably a time-of-purchase tax. =
yeah, once we get to 25% adoption (or something) we can talk about how badly EVs are hurting fuel tax revenue. in the meantime, jack up the fuel tax in a planned, regular way, and let the market decide :)
The 99% of people who drive ICEs and can afford an EV should get one.
Many good things are unpopular. Shutting down coal mining operations is unpopular with miners. Staying at home to avoid spreading a disease is unpopular, but we have to do it anyway because it's important.
Switching to EVs is important for slowing down climate change, and should be incentived (incentivised?).
What those 2 Australian states did translates directly into accelerated Climate change and Coastal cities sinking.
> For electric, it was worse - because they do tend to be more expensive to purchase up front, and they paid no fuel tax at all
California was cutting $10,000 checks to rich people buying $80,000 sports cars called Teslas. You could be a solo driver in an HOV lane for a long period of time, in a part of the world where rich people's negative experience with the outside world is disproportionately traffic.
For every two Teslas worth of subsidies, for rich people who might actually drive very little, you could buy a poor person who actually needs a car a whole Prius.
> Encourage drivers to move to lighter vehicles which cause less wear and tear on the road
As other people said everyone benefits from roads. Cyclists still need food delivered to grocery stations in trucks. Parents still have their kids driven around in busses. Everyone needs construction vehicles to build more housing.
The vast majority of the value of roads is realized by commuters. It's not even just the long-ass trip some sucker makes commuting from his low cost community in the boonies. There are a dozen different trucks that need to go that same trip to wildly inefficiently provide him with services.
The most logical thing to do would be to tax surburban and rural residents at a state level, and sending that money back to cities. That lifestyle is so preposterously inefficient as an alternative to paying a landlord absolutely more but relatively less to live in a city. Suburban and rural dwellers just externalize their costs to the city people collecting their garbage, running their government, banks and hospitals, teaching their kids, training their police, firefighters, running their courtrooms, etc. - stuff they imagine is in "their" communities but is essentially welfare from vastly richer cities.
I just want to chime in to say that it's true everyone benefits from roads, but not everyone benefits from ever wider roads and huge traffic machines. Delivery trucks and ambulances and what have you do not need 8 lanes and clover junctions. Those things are built to accommodate suburban commuters.
Sounds like the logical thing to do is to heavily tax employers that place offices in cities and force people to commute to the same place as everyone else where there isn’t adequate housing.
Additionally, heavy taxes should be levied on the city dwellers that devastate nearby communities to externalize their water supplies, their power generation, their food growth, etc.
I think you’ll pretty quickly find that you can make whatever lame arguments you want how people should and shouldn’t live. Just tax the specific negative externality you want to reduce and move on. Don’t sit there and moralize about other lifestyles.
Australians love 4 wheels drive and bigger cars. In some cases it's justified for obvious reasons: rough environments with less infrastructure (bush, outback..). In other cases it is for softer reasons: a big camping culture, having a big car being a social status, towing your boat/jet ski etc.
Also a few other points to consider:
_ Australia enjoyed economic growth for a long time and Australians are rich.
_ Fuel is cheap. According to www.globalpetrolprices.com right now a liter of gasoline is 0.74 euros compared to 1.33 for France
_ The road infrastructure is more favourable for big cars than in Europe (big/plenty parking spots in most towns in Australia).
It’s funny: as an Australian that has visited the USA a couple of times (and never been to Europe), I’d repeat half of your points but for America rather than Australia. Some Australians certainly have large vehicles without good cause, but that number is nowhere near as big as in America. (Notwithstanding this, my Dad and I have discussed the concept of a ban or extreme tax on owning big vehicles unless you can justify why you need them (e.g. tradie or large family), with country dwellers immediately exempt for convenience.) And fuel is way cheaper in the USA than in Australia.
That seems like an oversimplification. Rural states receive more in benefits than they pay in federal tax. Large families by necessity are going to favor rural areas and states. It is not clear to me how a large family is a net tax benefit, there are too many other factors to consider.
Having more people pay tax does not mean there is a net increase in tax collected.
In this context, I assume a "large family" is 3 or 4 children (a 5 seat sedan cannot physically, legally fit 4 children and two parents, and due to the size of modern carseats it can be dicey or impossible to fit 3 of them in compact or midsize sedans even for a 3-child family).
Even just maintaining replacement rate fertility requires an average of 2.1 children TFR, which means some families would need to have 3 or 4 children to get there since other families will have only 2 or 1 child.
In France, you end up paying a lower tax on your vehicle the more children you have, so a family with four children might pay the same taxes on a large diesel as a childless couple with a tiny gas car. I was trying to register my 3-cylinder 1.0 liter vehicle, just to find out I’d have to pay 1500 Euro tax for my gas guzzler. Ugh.
horsepower is rarely the limiting factor for a sedan's towing capacity. a sedan's chassis is only designed to withstand accelerating and stopping its own weight (plus a margin for safety and internal cargo of a reasonable mass). you could probably get away with towing a jetski with a typical sedan, but anything much heavier than that risks bending the chassis. even if a car can tow something without deforming itself, the change in weight distribution can make for a very unsafe situation.
Absolutely. My ex used to drive on the autobahn using an A3 to tow almost 750kg of horse float and horse. The trailer has its own brakes. As long as you don’t drive car and trailer straight off a curb it’s not bending anything.
“The average rate of fuel consumption across all Australian vehicles in 2016 was 13.1 l/100km. However, this includes buses and trucks which are overwhelmingly used for business purposes. Given that this study is focused on the vehicle costs of Australian households (and not businesses), Figure 1 presents the average rate of fuel consumption for the three types of vehicles which have significant private use, namely passenger vehicles, motorcycles and light commercial vehicles. Motorcycles are relatively fuel efficient using 5.6 litres of fuel per 100 km travelled in 2016, compared to 10.6 l/100km for passenger vehicles and 12.0 l/100 km for light commercial vehicles.”
It seems insane to me as well. My 2010 Mazda 3, used almost entirely on country driving with an average speed of 81km/h since I got it, sits at an average of 5.2L/100km. I recall figures from a couple of family members with similar or slightly larger cars on mostly Melbourne suburban driving, and they’re something like 8–9L/100km. My parents’ Nissan Elgrand (2007 I think?) hit something like 13–15L/100km before it got switched to LPG, if I recall correctly, and it was acknowledged to be a huge fuel guzzler (so they got rid of it once enough of their children had left home that they didn’t need it), far more than the smaller-and-lighter-but-same-seat-count ’86 Tarago had been.
Just to add another data point, I had a 2005 Mazda 6 V6 Wagon and I tracked the fuel usage for an entire year. Ended up a 10.2L/100km. Something I found was horrendous compared to my friends' Corollas and Civics.
Back in 2010 both me and my parents owned Mazda 3 (model year 2009) cars. They live in the suburbs with no traffic lights for a kilometre in every direction. I lived in an inner city (CBD fringe) apartment. Their car consistently reported 7.1 L/100km average whereas mine consistently reported 12.5 L/100km average. Both would get the same ~6.5 on highway driving.
Point is, road conditions and driving style affect fuel economy far more than the marginal difference between vehicles of a similar size class.
Holden/Fords used to manufacture locally. There’s a bunch of not very economical V8’s driving around as similar performant more economical European cars got a 30% luxury car tax to give AU manufacturing incentives.
Now Holden/Ford have shut down here everyone seems to drive a Toyota Hilux / Landcruiser. Tradies get tax benefits buying an expensive Hilux, can use it as a family car as they have dual cab and can take it in the bush doing 4x4. Landcruiser are popular with those who drive in the outback due to being suited to that terrain.
As a lot of cars on the road are Hilux utes the average driver wants a similar sized SUV “as they are safer”
You also have Australia’s lack of commitment to emission policies, manufacturers use Australia to offload cars that don’t meet emission standards elsewhere in the world.
The last time I was in Australia I rented a Toyota Landcruiser and went from Cairns to Cape York and back. Probably all the cars on that road did 13 l / 100 km or worse.
Then I rented a small Kia from Sydney to Bathurst. Maybe I refueled only before returning the car in Sydney.
Given that enormous amount of metal that's not being hauled around, I would have expected a bigger difference. Nonetheless, for single-occupant travel, halving transportation carbon footprint would be quite a great thing.
>Before any new car hits the showroom, the EPA runs an emissions evaluation and calculates a “CO2 equivalent” – a single number that represents GHGs CO2, NO X , HC, and CO. The CO2 equivalent units are in grams/mile, so a higher number means more GHGs and more climate damage. For a 2WD 2020 Ram 1500 HFE on the highway, that number is 340 g/mile. Unfortunately, motorcycle emissions data isn’t documented by the EPA. This is a real issue, because if the problem isn’t measured you don’t know what to fix.
>There are a few independent studies that shed light on the issue, however. One published in 2008 by Swiss researchers took real data from several motorbikes including a BMW R1150GS. The GS highway CO2 equivalent is a stunning 380 g/mile (17% worse than the Dodge)! They found that a 1993 Honda Shadow VX600 with only 583 ccs spews a whopping 408 g/mile. That is twice as much as a new Honda Civic!
>Other studies would suggest the problem is even worse. Global MRV tested out their portable emissions equipment in 2011 comparing 12-motorcycles to 12-cars of varying years (this was featured on an episode of Mythbusters). Motorcycles were almost universally terrible, with motorbikes from the 2000’s producing 3,220% more NOx and 8,065% more CO2 than cars of the same era. California has the largest motorcycle ridership in the country, and in 2008 the LA Times reported that while motorcycles accounted for 1% of all miles traveled, they were responsible for 10% of the state’s smog-producing emissions.
I've had my M1 since 1994, so I enjoy riding, so please don't take this as all negative. But it's important to look at the real data, which is much worse than people think with regards to emissions and pollution.
This is very surprising. But on reflection I suppose it makes sense, because the typical motorcycle is designed to be a performance machine not a commuter vehicle. So the engineering trade-offs are probably more similar to those made for sports cars.
This is a key point. Fuel consumption on my bike goes from about 22km/l all the way up to 15km/l if I increase my speed from 70km/h to 130km/h. Essentially the killer is wind drag. I'm riding a bike with notably poor aerodynamics, I suppose sport bikes do better in this regard.
Singapore isn’t comparable to this situation at all. To simply purchase a car in Singapore you need to purchase something called a certificate of entitlement, which entitles you to own a car for 10 years. They’re sold by tender, with different tenders for different types of cars. But you’re looking at about $30k USD just to buy the right to then buy a car. Singapore is also a country where essentially the entire country is covered by mass transit.
Yes, but it's the mass car usage that have caused Australian, American and many European cities to spread out to such an extent that walking or cycling or even transit is no longer an option for most people.
Car usage certainly hasn't caused that at all. Many people want that because they don't want to live in the type of environment, or in the type of accommodation you will find, in high density central city living. This has been the case since long before the car was even invented.
> Right now, EVs are absolutely creating an regressive tax situation with regards to fuel. Those who can afford to buy newer, efficient cars can usually save money on tax over those who can't. For electric, it was worse - because they do tend to be more expensive to purchase up front, and they paid no fuel tax at all.
Encouraging the adoption of cleaner but more expensive technology is always going to be regressive, no way around this.
A lot of environmental regulation has strong regressive effects, it hits coal miners much harder than people sipping 10$ coffee on their macbook.
I'm of mind that all government "monetary disincentives", e.g. fines, sin taxes, pollution taxes should go into fee and dividend scheme. Solves both moral hazard (we want more fines/driving because we need revenue) and regressive nature of those.
Taxing milage directly seems to have worse distribution properties than taxing gas. Here is what I mean:
Suppose I am driving from New York to Alaska; I fill up my car with gas then drive into Ontario. I have now paid New York a gas tax but I'm driving on Ontario roads; Ontario gets paid nothing for this wear and tear.. until I run out of gas inside Ontario. Then Ontario gets their cut. This continues all the way until I reach Alaska. The money isn't distributed perfectly, but it is distributed.
Now imagine I am instead taxed by the mile. If the car is registered in New York, does New York get all the milage tax? Do they give any of that to Ontario when I tell them I was in Ontario? Probably not, and it would require a lot of book keeping for me to keep track of all the places I've been. Does Ontario instead check my milage at the borders and charge me an exit fee? That seems impractical and potentially problematic. Is some sort of vehicle tracking system used to fairly distribute the money wherever I drove? Such mass surveillance is obviously problematic.
I don't know what the answer is, except for imposing a tax anywhere I purchase gas (or electricity.) That's the least bad solution I can think of.
Taxing mileage (and gas) also has the unfortunate property of being generally regressive. Roads benefit us all, but those who drive the furthest are often the poorest who live far from city centers.
In my (admittedly uneducated) opinion, road taxes should be overwhelmingly be paid by commercial vehicles since they contribute much more to road damage, their costs will be passed on to consumers, and the largest consumers are the wealthy. Mileage might make the most sense for that type of tax, and I think wouldn’t unfairly burden the poor. Maybe multiplied by the value of the cargo?
This seems like a pretty good solution; the infrastructure is already in place for weighing trucks at borders. Raising taxes for trucks to replace gas taxes for cars would also incentivize the use of trains, which would be nice.
Yes, I think this is the best way to do it. It may also make sense to tax residential power to fund roads, since many electric car owners will primarily be charging at home. Perhaps this electricity tax could be limited to people who are registered as owning electric cars. That would follow the same principle of applying the tax where the fueling/charging is performed.
AFAIK: If you want to claim cheaper rate for part of it, you need to install a second certified meter for that part. If you are willing to go by default rate (which at least in some places assumes some ratio) you don't.
That's how it's done everywhere I know of in the US. You do have to pay a bit more to have the second meter, but since sewage treatment is often more expensive than initial water treatment, you save quite a lot on balance.
> Suppose I am driving from New York to Alaska; I fill up my car with gas then drive into Ontario. I have now paid New York a gas tax but I'm driving on Ontario roads; Ontario gets paid nothing for this wear and tear.. until I run out of gas inside Ontario. Then Ontario gets their cut. This continues all the way until I reach Alaska.
It works roughly like this for trucks through the “International Fuel Tax Agreement”. Like the “World Series”, its international because it applies to Canada and US:
I remember a comment on HN that said the authors city analyzed license plate reader data to find out who was driving on the cities roads. 80% of the drivers were from out of town. The annoying thing about that, unlike highways much of the funding for residential and commercial roads is paid for by local taxes.
When I think about transportation I think about a paper I read about development of rail. The US and UK's experience is you run into market failure with private rail. The broad based benefits and network effects are diffuse, too many people and businesses benefit indirectly. Which means you can't charge high enough fares to pay for a optimal system.
RFID tag for your car with roads reading your entrance and exit. Then a bill at the end of the month from a single body that then divides the tax back to the area that maintains the various roads you used. High traffic roads get proportional funding. You could even have seamless integration with private roads. If someone thinks they can make money out of an expensive by pass the government doesn't want to build they can.
That seems like an implementation of the 'mass surveillance' solution to distribution. That probably appeals to many politicians, but to me that is intolerable.
It would also require different governments to cooperate; New York would have to be able and willing to redistribute part of my milage tax to a foreign country when that country says my car has been there. I don't know if that's feasible, but cynically I assume it would be difficult at best to put into practice.
You know that's already happening right? For example, SunPass in FL will bill you by your license plate as you go through automatic readers, and mail you a bill to California if that is where your car is registered.
Mass surveillance is about indiscriminate surveillance(recording everyone that comes through in case a bad guy comes through), as opposed to specific surveillance(trailing a mobster to see where he goes). You can have mass surveillance on some roadways without most roads being surveilled.
You can have mass surveillance at a stadium and no surveillance outside the stadium. Likewise, you can have mass surveillance on a toll road and not on county roads.
Part of your point was the difficulty of inter-state cooperation in this regard, which is incorrect, or at least the difficulty has already been overcome, because this data has been shared with SunPass for ~20 years.
And no one made an argument that because we have a little we should have a lot. My point was that what you find intolerable of is already happening.
There are places in the US where people live in no-income-tax states but shop across the border on no-sales-tax states. This is obviously an abuse, but it's never been enough of a problem to really crack down on.
If we can reduce our problems to known problems that aren't a big deal, that's good enough! Ship it!
> The EV industry accepts that a road user charge is inevitable as the car fleets transition to electric, but argue it should be introduced fairly and evenly. It points out the petrol excise goes into general revenue rather than road funding, and EV owners pay more tax than petrol car owners due to higher taxes from GST, stamp duty, and luxury car tax.
I think it's ok for one particular tax to be regressive if the general taxation scheme is not.
I'm not really sure I agree the general taxation scheme is not regressive still. It varies, but at least for ACT, they waive stamp tax on new electric cars, and registration is $100 cheaper. I also didn't include GST tax for fuel in my numbers above (10% of total fuel cost).
So yes, luxury tax does kick in at a lower number (which I find silly), but I think overall, you're still creating a situation where electric is paying less to use the same roads.
That said - Agree with the line you quoted. I think an even and fair tax makes sense, but I don't see how you do that at the local level when the fuel tax is federal.
Aside from an attempt to generate some inelastic revenue during a pandemic, I'm seeing very little talk of the other probable policy goal/implication of this change: that is to say, disincentives against cars and private transport in general with a hope to substitute to public transport. Like comparisons of Apple to Intel debates, this one is missing the clear other player in the room.
While it's arguable about how successful this is in either pragmatic or policy terms, dropping the context that the government is investing in both:
a) cross city train tunnel
b) outer suburban loop
c) airport line through Sunshine interchange
d) faster trains from Geelong upgrade
is to likely lose some important perspective.
This is on top of Melbourne's (which makes up easily the vast majority of the population of the state) already impressive public transport infrastructure.
Again, maybe this seems weird because people are interpreting it from the frame of private vehicle ownership, where the comparison is between ICT and EV. But that's not the correct comparison: it's actually a policy of moving between private and public transport. And from that perspective, it can also arguably make sense from an environment perspective as well.
Isn't the whole argument for public transport that it has lower CO2 emissions per passenger-mile than private cars? Electric cars in a country with a high proportion of electricity generated renewably (24% and rising) could be better than diesel busses.
Indeed, hence my point. It's all well and good to paint the situation as one of petrol vs electric, but if the issue is actually private vs public, and the later is generally more efficient, then applying a road-tax on both petrol and electric vehicles makes perfect sense.
And it's not like the remainder living out in rural victoria (where there is no PT infrastructure) are going to be picking up EVs en-mass, so it probably doesn't effect them in any fundamental way.
edit: oh wait, you mean to imply that EV vehicles don't have the CO2 impact of ICE vehicles, and thus there's not an incentive to switch to public transport? I'm guessing that's still wrong (in that our mass transport is still more efficient overall). But there's also other pollution issues aside from CO2, and the general efficiency in terms of distance travelled and efficient use of space and traffic issues that come from preferential PT use.
Well, while i think that it's a valid point to raise the question of public transport in a pandemic, judging by the number of people on the tram I just caught to the market, I'd be inclined to say that public transport might quip "rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated".
Regardless, the government, both state and federal, is investing major dollars over the next 10 years on infrastructure which assumes the opposite, and given the current infrastructure is already there, i think its a bit premature to talk of the future with such certainty.
"The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
"Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
"But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet."
"Australian cars right now avg about 13.1 litres per 100km"
Wait, that can't be true. That's an insane number if correct. Here in EU a car that averages 7-8L/100km is considered to have poor fuel economy. My previous car was a Mercedes AMG that over 4 years averaged 12L/100km and that was considered absolutely abysmal by everyone, people were wondering how I can afford the fuel for it. And you're telling me that the average for Australian cars is higher than that??
Does it? In Europe you would only have something like the Hilux, RAV4 or the Land Cruiser with a diesel engine, and then maybe on a bad day they would average 8L/100km. More like 5-6L/100km in normal use. I imagine if those were fitted with a big petrol engine then those numbers would explode, but then the idea of a big work truck fitted with anything other than a diesel just seems wasteful.
Diesels are about 25% in Australia. In my extended family, several are mechanics, everyone has land cruisers. But second cars are also common. My parents have a Hyundai Ionic and a Prado (smaller land cruiser).
I live in Europe now, and you simply can't compare the driving to Australia. Some roads are genuinely scary with the occasional cow or roo to hit.
Electrification is much more feasible in Europe, and the sooner the better. Every little diesel engine sounds like a truck. Now if only they would stop piling the taxes on electrics ...
Every car has an odometer... one could think of a relatively convenient scheme where you can get your car inspected once a year at any refueling station, and tampering with the odometer is a crime. Won't stop everyone, but does it matter?
New Zealand collects road tax on diesel vehicles using odometer readings. It generally works for heavy commercial vehicles where the owners have more to lose risking fraud but I know private vehicle owners who would wind back or disconnect their odometer to avoid the tax.
Your analysis is fine but the first step, or a concurrent step, needs to be tripling that motor fuel tax. That would only just barely bring it up to the necessary level of carbon taxation, nevermind the roads.
>>That said - I think the only real answer here is a more thorough overhaul of how you tax road usage. Perhaps it's time to ditch the fuel excise tax entirely, and tax all drivers based on (vehicle weight * kms driven * some constant).
Also congestion. Charging based on how much congestion is on a roadway while a car uses it will reduce traffic during peak times and increase how much economic value the road transportation network contributes by making the most valuable use-cases get priority access to roads during peak demand periods, while spreading out driving across a larger range of hours to reduce overall delays to traffic.
Traffic is basically due to a scarce economic resource - road space during peak times - having no pricing to prioritize its use. People thereby pay for road space during rush hour by paying in time stuck in traffic, which is a very inefficient economic mechanism for determining the allocation of scarce resources.
This is just not realistic to apply, and especially in Australia. You'd need someone to actually record those numbers, which would be a massive overhead of salaries on its own. Then you have crazy distances... you'd either send the inspector to that single farm 300km from the nearest town, or force people running it to being the trucks in for a check monthly.
Let the drivers report the odometer reading, and add the amount for the last period to the new cost.
You'd get some folks who lie, but there's already inspections in place for sales in some states. If the owner wants to sell the vehicle, require an odometer check and a final payment.
Basically - I don't really think there's a ton of extra admin cost here. Most folks will self report just fine.
Plus, we should be encouraging emissions inspections anyway. At least in the US many states require yearly or bi-yearly inspections to confirm nothing is wrong with the emissions systems in the vehicle. Good way to encourage basic maintenance and to vet manufacturer emission claims against real world data.
It's tied to yearly vehicle registration there too, and includes an odometer reading.
… and this is why price comparisons between rail and truck freight are typically bad, my dad tells me: because railways are expected to pay for their tracks, whereas trucks’ use of the road network is massively subsidised by passenger cars.
Snow removal is probably different, but the point is that road maintenance due to regular road wear would be significantly (perhaps at least an order of magnitude) less if there were only passenger cars on the road.
> That said - I think the only real answer here is a more thorough overhaul of how you tax road usage. Perhaps it's time to ditch the fuel excise tax entirely, and tax all drivers based on (vehicle weight * kms driven * some constant).
If you want to tax fairly based on road wear, you have to tax by axle weight to the 4th power * distance driven.
That said, there's a pretty simple solution that doesn't send the same "we are punishing EV owners with an extra tax" message: have a road usage tax for everyone, and slightly decrease the fuel tax.
But please, PLEASE, keep most of the fuel tax. Climate change is a real, urgent issue, and everything that encourages change away from fossil fuel should be kept.
You could make all vehicles pay road usage tax, keep charging fuel tax and use the latter to subsidize fuel efficient vehicles. It doesn't solve the question of how to make that palatable to the majority of people who can't afford an EV, though, even with subsidies.
I have to pay extra tax for my hybrid it’s sucks because the battery is old and my fuel efficiency is way down like a regular car so yeah I feel picked in for having the the car hey upvote this because it’s true you I never post but this means something to me guys
With respect to road damage via heavier vehicles, as other posts discuss, I won't. Not because it isn't real, but because the debate has been going on for, oh, 50+ years. Thus, conflating that issue with this, will result in an utter and relentless logjam.
So back to your post, one thing I'm utterly against is taxing per distance driven. Why?
Privacy. There are already talks all over the place, discussions in government, of having a GPS tracker counting distance. Some even discuss real time uploads to the government, others monthly dumps.
Sorry, no. No, no, no. In fact, not sorry. :P Because talk about full time surveillance! I realise that in some nations, like the UK, who have RFID/TPMS trackers, and license plate trackers all over the place, this might seem normal.
There is a way to charge for distance without gps tracking or such levels of privacy invasion.
For example, tolls where you pay cash is a solution. Obviously, that is adding a transaction cost, which is not desirable.
But let's think of a more privacy secure way to create an easy pass like system.
The obvious problem of easypass systems is they track cars by license plates and thus create a massive database of which car went through when.
But it could be legally required to purge the license plate data of cars that paid.
You could get a signal when going through the tollway that indicates the amount to pay. You could send a transaction via a cryptocurrency with a signed message on the transaction and then a separate API call to the state tollway system telling them which license plate was just paid for by the transaction.
Then any vehicles that had paid would be converted into effectively cash records with the license plate number purged.
Thus, data is only retained on those who broke the law and didn't pay.
While obviously this requires a government to see privacy as enough of a concern to adopt such data purge policies, it is totally possible.
If anyone else can think of a way to allow pay for road usage solutions that are more privacy secure, I'd love to hear them.
Two things. There is no system on Earth which tracks, which you can ever, ever trust to be purged. We already have issues with state actors, all over all of our democracies, constantly stepping out of bounds.
They spy where they are not allowed, play tricks with the letter of the law. For example, 5-eyes, where Canada is not allowed to spy on Canadians, and the UK on UK citizens, so each spy on the other's citizens, then hand the data over.
Or recent stories in the US, of the government buying data from the private sector. They can't spy, so they pay the private sector to spy.
I have zero faith that any scenario where data is harvested, that it won't be illegally/immorally/sneakily used. And history, that all important metric, 100% backs up that this sort of thing happens again, and again, and again.
So point #1? There's no scenario where we can ever trust 'track and delete'. Nor, can we ever trust any 'black box' in a car. EG, if we cannot open it, examine it (something highly unlikely in a metering device), no way will I ever trust it.
Number 2? Tolls are beyond impossible. I think you must live in a population dense area, to believe they are viable.
Yet think of rural routes, side roads, or just normal non-freeway roads. There are many 100s of millions of miles of these, and they greatly outnumber freeways. They cost upkeep too.
I often go 6 months without driving on a freeway, where I live. I know many people who drive thousands of km a month, yet are entirely on rural roads.
There isn't even network connectivity, including cell, in some of these areas. Phones. Loads of roads have no power lines, are just 'connect this dirt road to this dirt road', yet see a thousand cars a day.
As a side note, right now, we aren't paying per km. People driving a sports car, get 1/2 or 1/4 the gas mileage of a little smart car or some such. Yet, they both pay the same for gas.
Two things bother me here:
1) The whole reason most jurisdictions have 'tax people when paid', is because many people cannot save, and even if they could, literally have no money left at the end of the year.
If there is some 'pay later' or 'show up yearly, be tolled, and pay' scenario, this won't work well. Not at all. Collections alone is a horrible cost on any service, which costs immensely.
2) We already have odometers, which are theoretically sealed, illegal to monkey with, tied to car value, and with a HUGE history of laws / court action wrapped around them.
Anything can be monkeyed with or hacked, ANYTHING, so my point here is that odometers are already in the car, show distance, and have laws protecting them. And even, already, mechanics fully aware of the punishment for tampering with them.
(Odometer replacement even legally requires setting the replacement to the same as the old, etc, etc, or making an indelible note of it.)
But I also take objection to the government knowing how much I drive. Or when.
Really, I don't think this is much of a problem though. The whole reason Tesla went with electric, is because Musk wanted reliable gear for Mars. Can't use O2 burners there, so H2 was out.
With the recycling costs, slow charging of batteries, this is only a stopgap.
H2 is where we're going, over the next decade. Once that happens, taxation will be back where it was anyhow.
Agreed. Electrics are also substantially heavier, and therefore they cause more road wear, much like light trucks. In the US tax incentives for electrics are also de-facto giving money to the rich. The poor aren't buying electric cars. In some states there's now an upper cut off somewhere around 30K selling price for subsidies, but really, the subsidy needs to be income-based, not price based, and I say this as someone who's firmly upper middle class. It's completely idiotic to subsidize me for buying what amounts to an extreme luxury item.
> 13.1 litres per 100km
This seems crazy high even by US standards. My 300 horsepower 6 cylinder BMW, for example, uses 9.7L per 100km, and I drive mostly in the city.
These moves always come out of some sense of unfairness about electric vehicles not paying gasoline tax. However, we want people to stop using gasoline, and it makes no sense to punish people for doing a net good thing for society by abandoning ICE vehicles. To truly make a fair system, the payments for road maintenance should be proportional to the damage done to the road by the vehicle. Thus, fees should scale exponentially with vehicle weight.
This of course would make road freight very expensive, and that's a good thing, because freight should be shipped on roads as little as possible. Freight should be shipped by rail until the last possible mile.
I believe road wear is calculated as the 4th power of axle weight. Trucks have many axles to distribute the load, and are forced to stop at weigh stations to verify that they are within weight requirements.
As far as road tax, the current system works pretty fairly for ICE engines, in my opinion. The larger the vehicle, the more powerful the engine, and thus the lower the efficiency.
So semis are paying higher road tax than a little sub-compact car.
Also, the more you drive, the more fuel you use, which means the more road tax you end up paying.
With an electric car, the incentives are all out of whack. Roads don't wear less just because you have an electric motor turning your wheels.
There is a similar issue with home solar panel installs. Utilities factor maintenance costs in as a part of their kwh rates. If you have solar panels rewinding your meter back to basically zero, suddenly you are hurting the utility company in two ways: They are buying electricity from you at retail instead of wholesale, and you are no longer paying your line maintenance fees.
It's great to give incentives for new technology, but as they say, you can't scale losing money on every transaction into a profitable business.
There is a similar issue with home solar panel installs.
It is my impression that straight up net metering is very rare. It certainly isn't a thing in the UK where you will generally be paid much less for exporting to the grid than you will pay for importing from the grid.
Moreover, as I recall, everywhere I've lived (several different countries) separated out a standing charge for grid maintenance from electricity usage. It is certainly the case where I am now.
> It is my impression that straight up net metering is very rare.
Perhaps how it's done around here is different, but for instance this  caused a bit of an uproar among people we know with solar panels a few years ago.
I believe the way it works here is that if you install solar panels, you are allowed to net-meter an amount proportional to your annual electric usage in the period before you go solar panels. I think there is a bit of room for growth allowed, so something like 1.2x.
Not merely that, but it disproportionately punishes EV drivers. The fuel excise currently stands at $0.423 so a non-EV driver getting 10 km/l would be paying $0.0423 per a km to drive their car while a EV drive would be stuck paying $0.2 per a km.
In many countries, fuel taxes don't go into general revenues, they are ring-fenced and allocated for road maintenance. Even if they aren't, a reduction in revenue must be offset.
The fact that they aren't charged taxes for use of the roads was the incentive. This is removing it in recognition that electric vehicles are now enough of a percentage of the fleet to affect tax revenue.
New Zealand does the same, with diesel and commercial vehicles already paying "road user charges" (RUC) to fund road maintenance. Petrol (gasoline) vehicles pay this tax at the pump.
EVs are exempt from the RUC until they represent 2% of the fleet.
This approach makes sense, but with Australia, EV sales are not close to 2% and are still 0.6% , and they are still really expensive upfront to buy.
Also in Australia, the fuel tax isn’t isolated for use only for roads, it is a federal tax that can be (and has been), used for other more general expenses.
In a time of “money printer goes brrr” and tax cuts disproportionately benefiting the wealthy, nickel and diming things like EVs keeping their cost higher makes little sense. I like cleaner city air for everyone, reduced CO2 etc, adding this tax will make EV choice a lot harder as you’ll be hit with a tax larger than your fuel bill total, especially if you charge off your own solar and for people who buy a second hand EV just to drive around town. A 2.5c per km is equivalent to doubling the cost of a lot of EVs, example 2015 Nissan Leaf 24kWh does ~100km on a full charge of say 20 kWh, at 15c per kWh you are looking at $3 fuel and $2.5 tax. 15c is low but with combo of solar (which is very common in Australia) or off peak this is pretty reasonable. What isn’t reasonable is that level of tax for something that has more general benefits for trying to generate such a small total of revenue at such an early stage of sales. There are so many other ways this tax could be generated in relation to cars that would encourage uptake of these cars while still reducing impact on lower/middle income earners, I think this is a very poorly thought out tax.
I don't know what fuel prices are like in Australia, but here in Europe I pay around €0.05/km to fuel my ICE car. Taxes make up around 70% of that, so an EV tax of €0.015/km (1 AUD = 0.6 EUR) wouldn't be unreasonable once everyone is driving EVs.
As you say there's probably a better way to tax it though (it doesn't make sense someone with a Tesla Model X pays the same as someone with a Renault Zoe). If you drive 100,000km over the lifetime of your car (this is just a nice round number for examples sake) that's only €1500 in tax revenue. Higher taxes on the sale of large and luxury cars could generate the same revenue with little impact on the overall price (if you are already planning to spend €50k+ on a new car).
My opinion: The transition from ICE vehicles to EVs is a very large net benefit to society, so during this period when new ICE vehicles are still legal, we should be giving EVs special ("unfair") benefits to encourage people to switch. If this new tax results in people choosing to buy an ICE vehicle who would have bought an EV without it, that's a very bad outcome.
As for the loss of revenue from the gas tax, I think a two-phase solution would be best to solve that. In the first phase (now), make up the revenue by raising the gas tax. In the second phase (once ICE vehicles are almost gone), ban new ICE vehicles and then implement this tax. This way, the tax would never result in someone buying an ICE vehicle instead of an EV.
That is the real problem. We need to properly price in the negative externality. However, that would mean that driving (and even more so flying) becomes almost prohibitively expensive for many. We already saw with the yellow jackets in France that this would lead to unrest.
You know what else will lead to unrest? Unmitigated climate change.
We need to drastically reduce driving. Making it more expensive is just one of the measures to take here. We also need to alternatives easier to use. Better city planning and better infrastructure need to go hand in hand with price signals.
A real problem. Both are real problems. The importance of road maintenance isn't diminished by the importance of environmental considerations. Roads are vital to the economy. Governments need to multitask; they need to handle many important matters at once , not focus on one issue at a time while letting others fall to the wayside.
I didn't downvote you and I think you bring a useful point to the discussion, but I also think you'd be better-received if you completed your argument.
Please tell us, what is a good estimate for the impact of producing and EV on the planet? And how does it compare to a gas vehicle? If that's too much work I'd be glad to learn more about battery production, since that's the point of difference.
Polestar published their transparency report which states that their fully electric Polestar 2 compared to a Volvo XC40 will break even in CO2 emissions after 112k km (Global energy mix), 78k km (European energy mix) and 50k km (wind energy).
That's a completely separate issue from what I brought up. The fact is that EV owners don't pay maintenance taxes that are captured through gas taxes, and are complaining when they have to pay additional fees at other times such as registration.
It's fair to incentivize EVs because they are far less damaging to the planet and local communities than gasoline vehicles. Gasoline vehicles get to pollute for free, why don't non-polluters get to use the road for free?
Either you're trying to minimize climate damage and disproportionate harms to vulnerable communities, or you're business as usual.
While maintaining pavement is not all of road maintenance, it is the central aspect. Trucks wear out roads orders of magnitude more than cars. In the US trucks pay much less than cars, in total, for road maintenance. It is likely the same in Australia. Simply rebalancing the taxation to the amount of road wear would eliminate the need to tax EV road use without it being a significant subsidy of EVs.
Diesel trucks are also the dirtiest vehicles on the road. It makes absolutely no sense to subsidize trucking.
Actually Diesel engines are the most efficient ICE in mass production, modern engines respecting the latest emission standards (ex: EURO 6) are some of the least dirty vehicles on the road. If you compare fuel efficiency per ton per kilometer and what is the pollution caused, they become quite clean. Yes, older Diesel trucks are dirty and also the ones with improper maintenance, but hitting at all trucks because of some is not fair.
I live in South Australia. Taxes here are already high for everything road related; we already pay taxes for roads as part of Vehicle Registration (excluding compulsory 3rd party insurance); pay council rates (goes to roads), income tax (goes to roads), capital gains tax, and have a 10% GST (which may be 15% soon) which all feeds into the roads. Other parts of the world are providing incentives to EVs; but not here.
A 4 door luxury sedan would be a better comparison. For example, an Audi A4 has a 3700 lbs curb weight.
Also, since road damage scales at something like axle weight ^ 4th, balance issues could completely override the 300 lbs difference in mass.
For example, if the Tesla 3 can have 2 axles each with 2036 lbs/axle (because there is no ICE weighing down the front), it could theoretically be less damaging to roads than an ICE that has one heavy axle and one light axle.
22036^4 = (x 3700)^4 + ((1-x) * 3700)^4. Solving for x = 63%, so if more than 63% of an Audi A4s weight is on the front axle, it will be approximately worse than a balanced Tesla 3 for road wear and tear.
The Audi A4 from my example is apparently 55/45 front/rear weight, but I wouldn't be surprised if some trucks like a F150 or something was closer to 63/37. Of course, people who drive those things end up having to put artificial loads into the rear to make up for the weight distribution during inclement weather.
Why is it incumbent on the EV owners to somehow solve the blatantly and deliberately incorrect means of charging people to use roads?
This is like saying “the movie theater makes money by charging to park a car in the parking lot, but you walked to the theater, so how is it fair that you get to watch the movie for free?” Well, perhaps the movie theater should come up with some slightly less ridiculous way of charging for entrance.
Or if governments had decided to fund road maintenance using a tax on car paint, would it be unfair to buy a car that isn’t painted?
And what about people who use gasoline and diesel for things other than automobiles on public roads? That’s also unfair.
This is the solution I ended up settling on. I can't think of any other use-indexed item for a vehicle that you can tax. It fixes the ridiculous registration pricing for people who rarely use their vehicles. Fixes the odd taxing of high capacity trailers. Fixes the indexing on damage caused to the roads as you mentioned. The only real downside I can see is it puts pressure on drivers to not replace old unsafe tires
And axle weight comes from the weight of the cargo be it human or goods...
edit: just looked up what you said, really interesting, but makes me wonder if the transport of goods in smaller lorries for instance would ultimately be beneficial when you factor in cost of fuel, maintenance etc
The problem with all these taxes is one of 'pain' and political cost.
If fuel taxes and, say, VAT, were abolished and personal income tax adjusted to make up the revenue that would create a political shitstorm and public outrage even if people end up paying exactly the same amount per year.
Governments like relatively "stealthy" taxes. At the same time people want public spending so it's a political game of giving people what they ask for without making them feel too much that they need to pay for it...
Also: taxes are arbitrarily imposed through coercion, therefore they are not legitimate under an ethical standpoint, no matter how one wants to cut it. The idea of a "social contract" to justify taxation is absurd, to say the least (did you ever sign it voluntarily?).
If the government can print its own money (which you're forced to use), why does it need to make you work and pay taxes to get that money back?
The money the government "prints" has no value on itself, it needs your work to "value" its money. Taxation is nothing but the imposition the government puts on you to work "for free" so that it can print as much money as it wants and increase its own size.
Never "defend" taxes of any sort, they are unethical and essentially constitute slavery.
Because inflation is considered to be bad (not sure whether it's worse than the tax system though), but more importantly, an inflation tax is regressive in that richer people can afford to store their wealth in things that do not inflate away (and even deflate due to this kind of speculation).
Also, taxes are probably a smarter way to deal with negative externalities than regulation.
Inflation is taxation on your savings. It's effectively the same thing as any other tax.
Laws and regulations are the reason as to why taxes exist in the first place. The government holds the monopoly of force, therefore it can issue any laws and regulations it wants. Because of that it can have a monopoly on the currency and tax its people.
You're completely missing his point. It's not the exact same thing. If I made a million a year as a company owner or shareholder (ignoring tax evasion schemes) I would receive a salary or dividends (ignoring choosing to hold it alone) then reinvest that money into other assets. That can be effectively an instant transfer. I don't lose any money because my capital is in interest-adjusting money earning places, rather than sitting in accont become ever less valuable. The system has some merits but in the end it's not a tax on the rich (who would minimize cash savings) or the poor (who, unfortunately, by definition have no capability to amass any) but instead on the middle class.
I'd argue that's far, far less fair than standard progressive income taxes.
My point is that taxation is unjustifiable ethically. That includes direct taxation and inflation (under a monopolistic currency dictated by the government).
You can only justify taxation under an authoritarian standpoint (eg. "we must tax people so that..."). Going that way, whoever has more guns wins the argument.
Making a relative assessment of which taxation scheme is more "fair" seems to be pointless to me, in the same way it would be pointless to discuss what crime would be preferable given the choice of rape or murder.
> My point is that taxation is unjustifiable ethically.
That's entirely dependent on your ethical axioms, on which there is no universal consensus. There are certainly frameworks within which some taxation is justifiable.
> You can only justify taxation under an authoritarian standpoint (eg. "we must tax people so that...")
(1) that's not true, and
(2) that's an instrumentalist/utilitarian argument, not an authoritarian one. An authoritarian argument for taxation would be that the existence of government, itself, justified taxation to the extent government ordered it, not that taxation was necessary to serve some social benefit.
> That's entirely dependent on your ethical axioms, on which there is no universal consensus. There are certainly frameworks within which some taxation is justifiable.
You're right in that there are multiple ethical systems that could justify the arbitrary nature of taxation. That doesn't mean those ethical systems can survive the scrutiny of philosophical razors.
Being specific, from the perspective of the ethics of private property (derived from the concept of self ownership), you can't justify taking away someone's property by force (eg. taxation). You can't fight the self ownership premise without contradicting yourself: if you can argue, it means you are not me, therefore you "own" yourself.
If your ethical system agrees with the idea of taxation "to serve some social benefit" it necessarily doesn't agree with the the premise of self-ownership, as it would imply that "society" has an existence of its own, therefore it can have property, which would extend to the ability of "owning" individuals and their property. However, the "society" is an abstraction, it doesn't really exist (only individuals exist), so that ethical system would fail under Hume's razor.
Individuals are an abstraction too, we're just a bunch of cells.
Human beings evolved to live in a society. Exile from society being tantamount to a death sentence. And no society exist where there is no taxation, even if it's only in the very mild form of losing social credit if you didn't share food with others.
> Individuals are an abstraction too, we're just a bunch of cells.
A bunch of cells that collectively constitutes an organism that can perform arguments, therefore it has the ability to declare self-ownership. Ownership implies private property, with property being defined as something that is scarce, is delimitable, modifiable and which its owner can protect and defend.
Societies don't "exist" (within the self-ownership context) exactly because they can't perform arguments on their own, as they are just an idea, or abstraction, being composed of individuals that perform arguments and can never fully agree on all possible arguments collectively. Therefore, "societies" can't have self-ownership (and no private property, by consequence).
> And no society exist where there is no taxation
Groups of people have coexisted peacefully through history without a central government imposing taxation on them.
What you're calling "social credit" in the context of "societies" that didn't have a central government imposing taxation is nothing but a contract acquired voluntarily. If people in those "societies" decided to leave the groups and move to other groups, or just live on their own (which could be hard, but always a possibility), they could do so.
I think that road users should pay to use the road. Fuel excise, or electricity surcharge tax or whatever, is a tiny fraction of the subsidy that road users get from regular tax payers.
I'm a blind Aussie taxpayer.
Consider my tax situation. If I take an Uber to my local pub, that's about A$10. Of that $10:
$0.90 in Goods and Services Tax
$1 to the taxi compensation scheme
That's 19% tax - or $1.90/$10.
In Australia, public transport and P2P services get to a tiny fraction of all available road destinations. It easier (and sometimes cheaper) for someone like me to get from Sydney to Singapore than to Sydney to Kangaroo Valley (about 350km from Sydney).
So, for my 19% tax rate to get to the pub, the equivalent journey someone who can drive a car on their own may pay $0.25 in fuel excise duty.
They can pay the road users tax. They already get enough of a subsidy from me.
I agree. If we were to make roads equally available to all regardless of means, I should be able to travel to 100% of Australia, not the small fraction served by PT and P2P.
What I object to is that the tax for blind road users is several orders of magnitude higher than driver-users. And that comes with the caveat you can access maybe 5% of areas in Australia by PT and P2P.
At least my kids can use schools without an orders-of-magnitude higher tax. They can only use parks accessible by PT and P2P (which - in Australia - is a very small fraction).
So I get we all should pay for shared resources. But its less fair to ask someone who isn't permitted to access these shared resources an orders-of-magnitude higher tax to access a tiny fraction of those resources.
Roads are a bit different than parks and schools, in that the vast majority of the maintenance costs of roads are caused by commercial (generally for-profit) activity. You do often have to pay to use public parks and school facilities for commercial events.
Also, there’s a difference between the government funding infrastructure or protecting monopolies that develop and maintain infrastructure, and government providing total end-to-end funding of something. We generally pay for usage of electricity, water, and postage, for example.
Road taxes should be directly proportional to how much wear a vehicle causes to the road. That ranges to effectively zero for bikes and pedestrians to dozens of times as much as a car for eighteen-wheelers.
Further, large trucks don’t travel on many roads, which are useful roads to people throughout suburban and rural areas. These roads need maintenance too, even if the wear is more from weather. As a car owner, one has to participate in maintenance of the system somehow.
If the taxes are going in a road maintenance fund, yes. In many countries road taxes are just taxes, in my country they are used to fund the general budget and over 50% of the budget is going to various forms of benefits.
Indeed, road damage is a 4th power function off the load of a vehicle. I feel this would be fairly easy to implement at registration (at least here in the states, weight is part of the registration application).
Sure, but you're still paying the same tax, its just buried under a different line item.
And at least for non-food goods, I tend to think usage taxes are appropriate, since consumption (usage) tends to go up as income goes up.
I'm particularly interested to see where we go as more and more shopping moves to home delivery. In theory, you save wear because each individual isn't driving to the store and back, but you're also increasing the number of large/heavy vehicles. And heavy vehicles account for basically all road damage.
Shipping is important but current trucks aren’t the only way to transport goods. Taxing vehicles based on their road wear would incentivize the industry to move to smaller trucks that don’t cause as much damage to roads.
Same issue is looming for many jurisdictions that have funded roads and public transit with gas taxes. As gas taxes decline, there becomes a hole in the budget.
Yes EVs are better than ICE vehicles on CO2 emissions, so of course we should pivot to that, but beyond that cars are still harmful and need to go away as much as they can. EVs create toxic road dust (brake pads + tire wear), congest the roads and kill pedestrians just like regular ICE cars.
Better for the taxpayer, the pedestrian, and the environment would be to fund roads and public transit through other, more stable means that don't rely on stable/increasing car ownership (eg. income taxes, wealth taxes), and then save money by limiting road expansion and taking cars off the road as we improve active and public transport.
I agree that EVs cause problems and should be taxed too. In addition to the issues you mention, I also worry that subsidies for luxury car brands like Tesla are funded by redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich.
But the problem with funding roads from income/wealth taxes is that it moves it further away from being a user-pays system, which creates the wrong incentives. One way to avoid this would be a variable tax that shifts continuously with the mix of vehicles on the road.
I agree that there's advantages to the user pay system. People are enthusiastic to use a new bridge, less so when they find out that they have to pay a toll to drive over it. Various charges can be used to manage congestion.
In a system where road use is "free" there would need to be significant government discipline to not heed demands of road users for more roads.
Heavy taxes on the purchase of new cars may be a good strategy to dissuade vehicle congestion, with lesser taxes on new EVs and lesser still on used vehicles.
Australia has terrible land management. Before urban settlement the Aboringal population would carry out continual burn and migrate behaviour, keeping the bush leaf clutter far more in check and drastically reducing the amount of fuel available.
Austalia has always burned long before the industrial revolution and it can't burn without fuel.
Australia does plenty of forest management. The problem has been in recent years it's been more dangerous to do controlled burning and the recent bushfires were so extreme the fire was jumping between the tops of the trees skipping the undergrowth completely.
The correct thing might be to add the road tax early as to not need to change the TCO calculation later, when people already own the vehicles.
To keep encouraging EV purchases, instead offset the road tax by subsidies for new cars. That brings more cars into the pool.
The subsidies can be more or less than the road tax, the point is that the subsidies are trivial to remove later, but a tax is harder and more unfair to those who already purchased a car assuming a specific cost of ownership.
I think a tire tax would work much better, as tire wear should be closer to being proportional to road wear caused by the vehicle. The proportion may change over time, necessitating tax updates, but clearly fuel consumption isn't proportional to road wear.
It’s bizarre that they didn’t just apply this as a universal tax of miles driven for all vehicles.
But the dollar amount sounds about right, so my objection is simply “charge the base miles tax to all vehicles and multiply it by the number of tyres on the car”, or set it by “axle weight ^ 4” as top comment notes, or whatever.
They can repurpose the gasoline tax as a carbon emissions tax, set to market rates for the carbon credit cost of a tank of gasoline, since we can generally estimate that within enough accuracy for a carbon tax.
Still, at least it’s progress towards rational behavior towards vehicles!
This is problematic on so many levels. Eg. How do they plan to enforce this tax?
But the real overlooked issue is the cost of roads. They cost millions per mile -- and that cost largely is a reflection of the fact that road building is not competitive. Find a way to innovate this side of the issue -- bringing road costs down multiple factors -- and the taxation issue largely evaporates.
Oregon decided last year? Year before? That their registration fees were going to be based on efficiency of the vehicle, so the gas burning cars end up paying less to register. I get trying to have EVs pay their fair share, but having to pay more than double what a massively polluting much heavier truck has to pay is kind of a slap in the face. I'd much rather pay per kwh.
Everyone benefits almost equally from the road system, regardless of whether they drive. Emergency services, food and other goods, the entire economy depends on the roads. Taxation to fund road maintenance should be central and universal, and not directed at individual vehicles, other than perhaps a sales tax based on weight.
That sounds "fair" but amounts to a massive subsidy of diesel powered heavy trucking.
TBF, it is possible to build roads that trucks do not quickly destroy, and maybe the expense of doing that makes sense in some cases.
Everything except heavy trucking would pay much less to maintain roads, but for trucks wearing them out. While you suggest a tax based on vehicle weight, which might also seem "fair," that still does not capture the disproportionate wear, order of magnitude more, caused by heavy trucking.
So? You need trucks to deliver stuff (food etc) if you want to live in a city.
The correct way of looking at this isn’t by asking “what’s fair” but instead “what we want to incentivise”. People moving out of cities? Ramp up city property taxes. People moving into cities (more efficient)? Subsidise transport of goods. More green energy? Tax CO2 / fuel, subsidise (clean) electricity. Less trucks, more railways? Tax trucks more, but this hardly makes sense unless rail a viable alternative (i.e. there’s enough railways leading to the city).
I actually think this is quite reasonable. One issue with the "wait until they are a larger share of the market" argument is trying to add a tax gets harder the more people are used to not paying it. The earlier you introduce it the easier it should be.
EVs clearly use roads and should pay to use them. Yes ICE vehicles have serious side effects, and we should encourage a switch. But it shouldn't have to be by giving EVs a free ride. A carbon tax would discourage both CO2 emitting cars, and the coal power generators that make up the majority of Victoria's energy generation.
Note: I live in Victoria, but don't drive an EV (yet).
This probably has little to do with maintaining roads, fairness , etc. It has more to do with finding a new revenue source to take advantage of. Sort of like Douce Bank saying that Work from Home people should pay a WFH Tax.
The most enthusiastic proponent of an EV tax has been the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia
Infrastructure Partnerships Australia is an independent think tank that looks for ways to raise capital. To justify their existence, they look for ways to separate the masses from their money. Just another private group run by Corporate hacks and sleazy Gov.
ICE Vehicles pay registration fees and a gas tax that's suppose to go into the Road Infra but never entirely does. EV's pay registration fees and I'm sure there is already a tax on electricity that is used to charge them just like there is a gas tax for ICE Vehicles. So isn't this double taxation?
Perhaps the problem here is you could get a few Solar Panels and a Battery/Storage device and deny them their revenue/profit/tax. We can't have that, can we....
As soon as technology starts digging into the pockets of Tax Revenue, a new Tax comes along to negate any savings benefit for the consumer.