New polling shows a majority of registered voters in Utah support a new law which shaves two cents off the state gas tax but imposes a 12.5% tax on electric vehicle charging stations that levy fees to motorists.
The results reflect what the bill’s sponsor, House Majority Leader Mike Schultz, R-Hooper, said is a matter of fairness with higher prices at the pump and the reality that electric vehicles and hybrids still result in wear and tear on Utah’s roadways.
The Dan Jones & Associates poll revealed that 52% of Utahns support the new taxing structure that happened via HB301, while 38% do not and 11% of respondents did not know.
The poll was conducted March 14-22 tapping the views of 801 registered voters in Utah with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46%.
Critics of the measure passed this last session complained it incentivizes pollution from fossil fuels and is just one more hurdle to ownership of an electric vehicle or hybrid.
“Utah should be careful about additional fees and taxes on electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are already contributing to road maintenance via either added fixed fees or by participating in the state’s Road Usage Charge program,” says Kelbe Goupil, senior associate on electrification with Utah Clean Energy.
“Now that this new sales tax has become law, we want to work with stakeholders to make sure that it does not burden current and potential electric vehicle drivers, especially for those that cannot charge at home and rely on public charging. The road maintenance impacts related to electric vehicles should be accounted for in a transparent, accessible way that does not deter electric vehicle adoption, particularly given Utah’s persistent air quality challenges.”
Polling shows that only 12% of Utah residents own a hybrid or electric vehicle, with 88% who have yet to take the leap.
Those numbers likely link to the higher cost of these vehicles and is reflected by income levels that shape a consumer’s willingness to turn to less polluting vehicles.
Residents making more than $100,000 a year were more likely to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle than those under that annual salary, with the exception of wage earners in the $35,000 to $49,000 income bracket who also expressed a strong desire to get into a hybrid or electric vehicle.
Still, the poll showed that 56% of Utah residents would definitely or probably make an electric vehicle or hybrid their next vehicle purchase, while 42% said it is not something they would consider. Three percent said they did not know.
A lot of cities and state governments have been going the electric vehicle route, however, seeking to make their fleets more green and reduce their carbon footprint.
The federal government, according to the IRS, offers up to $7,500 to qualified buyers for electric vehicles.
The issue of electric vehicle and hybrid ownership also differed based on political affiliation, the poll shows.
While 43% of Republicans said they would likely make a hybrid or electric vehicle their next vehicle purchase, that was eclipsed by 78% of Democrats who said they would make that choice.