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Virginia Governor To Consider Tax On Hybrid And Electric Cars

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EnviroCab's electric taxicab charging at a station behind the Arlington the dispatch headquarters on Columbia Pike.
Michael Pope
EnviroCab's electric taxicab charging at a station behind the Arlington the dispatch headquarters on Columbia Pike.

EnviroCab general manager Rick Vogel loves to show off the fleet's electric taxicab, which hooks into a power outlet behind the business' Columbia Pike headquarters in Arlington. It's not quite ready for the road yet, but he hopes it will be soon — the latest addition to the fleet of all hybrid taxicabs.

"We're the only 100 percent hybrid cab company in the area, or for that matter east of the Rockies," says Vogel.

That means his drivers may get hit soon with a new tax, one directed at owners of hybrid vehicles and electric cars. The $100 annual tax is part of the transportation package members of the General Assembly approved before leaving Richmond last month.

"I think it's preposterous," says Vogel. "So we should be penalized by being friendly to the environment, and gas hogs should be given a break?"

Two northern Virginia legislators have created a petition to persuade the governor to use his line-item veto to remove the hybrid tax from the transportation package. Democratic Sen. Adam Ebbin says the tax is counterproductive to the Commonwealth's long-term goals.

"We talk about making Virginia a green energy capital in research and production, that sort of thing," he says. "So why should we penalize people who take it upon themselves to do something right?"

Legislators who approved the tax say hybrid drivers aren't paying their fair share for roads and transportation infrastructure.

"People who drive motor vehicles powered with gas are paying the equivalent of about 10 cents a gallon for repair and maintenance of the roads," says Republican Del. Dave Albo. "A person with an electric car is going to pay zero. And that's not fair."

One catch: hybrid cars also use gas, so Albo says the tax still needs to be modified to fit different kinds of hybrid vehicles on a sliding scale. Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to sign a final version of the transportation package later this month.

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