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Question to the people in California

Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:29 am


I'm an i3 owner from the Netherlands.

Overhere we pay salestax when buying a new car, but also we have to pay what we call "wegenbelasting"= road tax.

For electric cars the "road tax" is zero. For hybrids it also was zero up to now. But from Jan 2016 on, we are obliged to pay road tax for hybrids.
The amount is 50% of the regular road tax for a car of the same weight. The tax is depending on the weight of the car. For the i3 Rex this 50% will be € 382,-/year.
So people with a Mitsubishi outlander (driving mainly on gas) have to pay that tax, but I also (with my i3 using about 10 liters of gas/year and for the rest driving on PV-electricity).

Ofcourse I'm not happy with that.

The tax rule is simple: if you drive a hybrid, you pay 50%.

I understand there is a tax in California depending on the gastank size. That was supposed to be the reason for a gastank that's a little smaller in California than for other states? /Europe.
This seems more fair to me.

Can anyone explain the rule to me? Is it just about a sales tax on the new car or do you also have a tax similar to our road tax. And is the tax zero up to a certain gastank size?
Zwerius Kriegsman (from Holland)

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Re: Question to the people in California

Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:56 pm

The gas thank is "smaller" in the US because BMW wanted to meet the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandate, . Specifically, CARB is classifying the i3 as a "BEVx," or a range-extended battery-electric vehicle because it's battery range in more than the gas engine range. And the engine will only kick on once it dips below 6% and can not charge more that 5% I believe. By doing this, BMW qualifies for more ZEV credits.

AFAIK, there is no "road tax" here in California, there is tax on gasoline that is added to the cost of the gasoline when you buy it. That tax is used to fix roads. There are talks about implementing a system to charge electric car owners the tax/mile driven. But earlier would be 2017.

Benefits for buying the i3 in the US is the $7500 tax credit (or cap cost red if you lease since it goes to bmw), and California offers an additional $2500 (you lease for 30+ months or buy the car)
2015 i3 rEX Arravani Grey giga, parking, tech, 20"

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Re: Question to the people in California

Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:25 pm

eneka wrote:AFAIK, there is no "road tax" here in California, there is tax on gasoline that is added to the cost of the gasoline when you buy it.

I think the road tax in European countries is similar to the annual registration fee levied by U.S. states. The tax added to the cost of gasoline and diesel in European countries is huge compared with those added to gasoline and diesel in the U.S.

2014 BMW i3 Arravani Grey, Giga World, Tech + Driving Assist, Parking Assist, DC Fast Charging, JuiceBox EVSE

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Re: Question to the people in California

Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:43 pm

Fuel costs at the pump in Europe are often easily 2x the price we pay in the USA which is one reason why our roads and bridges are falling apart! The actual costs of the raw materials is similar as is the refining of it between the USA and most of Europe.

Where I live in New Hampshire, we do not pay a sales tax on general merchandise at all (you do in a restaurant, hotel, but when you register your vehicle, you pay an annual tax to the state/county/city where you live based on the value of the vehicle - sort of a personal property tax. To get your tags renewed, you pay the state, and that is based on the weight/type of vehicle. Those fees are miniscule compared to what amounts to a personal property tax (which decreases every year). It still works out FAR less than the typical VAT most of Europe pays for their vehicles and merchandise (US is about 3%, built into the price of the car by the importer). The difference between VAT and the US import fees is one reason a why cars are a lot cheaper here than in Europe, even counting the extra shipping costs.

Each state has their own method and rates of sales taxes and registration fees and there is no federal fee as a line item either during or after the sale of the vehicle - the importer includes that in the base price of the vehicle. Well, there is one exception - depending on the fuel efficiency, a vehicle might be subject to a one-time fuel guzzler tax by the feds, but that certainly does not apply to the i3! The majority of vehicles sold here do not get hit with that fee, and if it does apply, it's paid to the dealer when purchasing the vehicle.

FOr now, there is a $7500 federal tax credit on the i3 for the first purchaser of an i3. Note, not everyone will see the full amount based on their taxes and won't get the full credit if you haven't paid that much in based on the rules when filing your's not a rebate. Some states do have rebates on EV purchases (mine doesn't), and that's cash back into your pocket.

There has been some discussions about applying a certain amount/mile driven verses x amount per gallon of fuel purchased to account for the fact that newer cars get much greater fuel efficiency than older ones, so the actual road wear and tear is no longer equitable, especially with EV's not paying anything because they don't buy gasoline. That issue will becoming more pressing once more EVs are on the road, but it makes sense for the existing ICE vehicles as well. Administering it, though, would add another bureaucracy that most people would like to avoid as well as the periodic bills.
Jim DeBruycker
2011 535i x-drive GT, 2014 i3 BEV

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Re: Question to the people in California

Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:21 am

In Colorado, we have to pay a $50 (I think) "road tax" for driving an EV. A typical ICE (25 mpg, 12K miles/year) would pay about $100 in gas taxes directly to the state.

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Re: Question to the people in California

Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:40 am

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandate for Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) has nothing to do with taxes. Instead, CARB requires manufacturers overall vehicle sales to include a percentage of ZEVs. The rules are designed to phase in, gradually increasing every few years.

The mandate applies to a manufacturer’s overall fleet sales, not an individual brand so the BMW fleet consists of BMW, Mini, and Rolls Royce sales added together. Currently the mandate applies only to car makers with the highest sales: Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. In 2017, it expands to the middle tier: BMW, Hyundai, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and VW. Even though the mandate doesn’t apply to BMW yet, BMW i. sales are building credits that can be banked for future use or sold to manufacturers who cannot meet the mandate with their own vehicles.

Nine additional states, primarily in the northeast, have adopted the CARB mandate so sales of ZEVs in those markets are included in overall sales calculations. Making the situation even more complicated, CARB reviews and revises the mandate every three years to account for technology progress. Currently only battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles qualify as ZEV.

The BMW i3 REx was the first vehicle certified as a BEVx, a subset of the BEV classification that permits an auxiliary power unit with a range equal to or less than the battery range. Hence the restricted fuel capacity of the i3 REx.

The closest thing California has to a road tax would be the annual vehicle registration fee. It is based on the vehicle value (0.65% plus add-ons for assorted fees and local surcharges) so declines each subsequent year. The ZEV designation has no impact on the base fee. To put it in perspective, my 2014 i3’s renewal fee for 2015 was $382 while I paid $200 for my 2009 328i. Gas powered vehicle are subject to a $20 smog abatement fee so there’s a minor break for ZEV owners.

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