Cars

Matt Prior: how the government will recoup lost fuel revenue

They could take it, so our story goes, through connected chargers. But I don’t think they’ll need to. 

I see at least three ways of taking tax from EV drivers and only one, to me, has no obvious drawbacks. 

They aren’t taking it through car chargers, because you can get electricity from any old plug. Unlike diesel, you can’t dye electricity red, and creating a black market for electricity doesn’t sound like the safest idea to me. Those who could use a three-pin plug at home would and, while ever-faster chargers will mean you won’t need to charge at home, if you’re one of the 18 million car owners who can, why won’t you? 

Nowhere will be more convenient or cheap and your car is ready, warm and defrosted and the battery conditioned in the morning without depleting the range. If that’s road-fund-free and shared chargers aren’t, those who have to use public chargers – likely the less well off – would pick up the tab. Which isn’t fair. 

So we could introduce nationwide road pricing, but creating the monitoring infrastructure makes HS2 look like painting a garden fence; and, for as long as Clive and Brenda from accounts keep sneaking off for illicit nights away together, there will forever be privacy headaches. 

Which leaves the third way – your car just grasses you up. It’ll be registered anyway, connected anyway, you’ll have some kind of app anyway, and your four-wheeled friend will know precisely how many juices you’ve poured into it. It doesn’t matter where that came from. It’ll spill the beans and the tax can be easily applied at a flat, fair rate. All of the hardware for this is already inside pretty much every electric car

So when fuel revenue drops, nobody will need to create an infrastructure to tax electric transport: the method already exists. 

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