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horsawlarway said 9 days ago:

I'm not really sure there's a good answer here.

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.

recursive said 9 days ago:

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.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

Wikipedia says damage is proportional to axle weight to the 4th power: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_weight#cite_ref-13

chrismorgan said 9 days ago:

I remember my dad telling me that when I was in my late teens. That it’s the fourth power startled me.

To give an idea of what this means:

For a 50 tonne semi-trailer with five axles, (⁵⁰⁄₅)⁴ = 10,000 units of damage.

2 tonne vehicle with two axles, 1 unit of damage.

That one truck, only 25 times as heavy as a pretty heavy car, is doing 10,000 times as much damage to the road.

Thus indeed if you have basically any heavy freight at all on a road, the rest is negligible.

reitzensteinm said 9 days ago:

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.

a1369209993 said 9 days ago:

FWIW, if we assume it's based on tire weight, a 50-tonne 18-wheeler actually does (50/9)^4 ≈ 952.6 times as much damage, not 625.

> I suspect the reason nobody cares enough to test this is that it would still be a gap large enough to make cars insignificant.

That seems likely, yes.

reitzensteinm said 9 days ago:

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.

ballenf said 7 days ago:

Also, truck tires are also much larger (than an average passenger car) and have a larger contact area.

Passenger off-road vehicles with knobby tires might be harder on roads too in a different way than weight.

reitzensteinm said 7 days ago:

I actually thought this was the case but a quick search indicated about twelve inches wide for both. Was I missing something?

It would make a significant difference to the calculations, eg 50% wider tires would mean dividing truck severity by 5.

dumbfounder said 9 days ago:

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.

Someone said 9 days ago:

100 kg bicycle (including rider), 0.00000625 units of damage.

So, getting people out of their cars onto bicycles cuts road maintenance cost.

Because of that, building bike lanes/paths can be cheaper than not building them.

(And 50 tonne trucks are very rare on most city roads, I hope)

kortilla said 9 days ago:

A fuel truck that refuels most gas stations in the US is something like 40 tonnes so it’s not rare at all.

As long as the roads are built to sustain those trucks the cars are negligible. So until cars are the big wear item, moving people to bikes is pointless from a road wear perspective.

gameswithgo said 9 days ago:

i love bikes and there are many reasons to get people on them, but assuming the 4th power claim is correct you are right. road damage isn’t a reason. math checks out.

tertius said 9 days ago:

How many car miles per large truck mile is driven?

Godel_unicode said 8 days ago:

Looks like about 10x car miles per truck mile. So it's a rounding error in terms of road damage, it's trucks by a landslide.


kortilla said 8 days ago:

It’s a nice real world example of big O :)

Aerroon said 9 days ago:

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.

0xB31B1B said 9 days ago:

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.

myself248 said 9 days ago:

If that were the case, then roads would be almost equally bad everywhere regardless of the weather.

As a Michigander, the dictionary does not contain words to express how strongly I disagree with that implication.

Retric said 9 days ago:

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.

peterwoerner said 9 days ago:

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.

coryrc said 8 days ago:

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.

FlyMoreRockets said 8 days ago:

Copper? I thought batteries were primarily lead.

kevin_thibedeau said 8 days ago:

Northern roads are often (but not always) designed with more substantial shoulders to mitigate frost heaving on the edges of the road bed and plow damage.

labawi said 8 days ago:

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.

bobthepanda said 7 days ago:

Frost heaving is also a significant contributor to road wear in winter areas.

marta_morena_28 said 9 days ago:

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"

Someone said 9 days ago:

Who says all? I’m just pointing out that there can be economic incentives for improving bicycle infrastructure.

That isn’t an original idea. See for example https://www.vabike.org/vehicle-weight-and-road-damage/ (2009)

Also, if in Google “50 ton 5-axle truck” I get trucks that I rarely see on roads in Europe. Reading https://www.jpisla.es/resources/Download+JPIsla+20130106+Pes..., that’s because t most countries don’t allow them on roads.

kelnos said 9 days ago:

A quick search suggests that a semi truck without trailer weighs between 10 and 25 tons[0]. 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.

[0] https://www.tcsfuel.com/blog/truck-weight-classification/

wiredfool said 8 days ago:

No, a ton is 2000 lbs or 1000kg, you’re using ton as 1000 lbs.

Max US ordinary large truck loading is 80k lbs, or 40 tons.

(Source, I trained as a civil engineer. Units in us practice were all over the place, but kip was generally the one that got used the most.)

TulliusCicero said 9 days ago:

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.

hallway_monitor said 8 days ago:

I'll keep my car thanks

TulliusCicero said 8 days ago:

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.

Dagger2 said 8 days ago:

Most cyclists are also drivers, so yeah, I'd expect you to. Noone was telling you to get rid of your car.

But not every journey needs to be done by car.

scrumbledober said 9 days ago:

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.

brownbat said 9 days ago:

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.

b212 said 9 days ago:

Wow, I always knew the semis are ruining roads but this 10k factor just blew me away, crazy! Thanks for a great post.

sho_hn said 8 days ago:

> Thus indeed if you have basically any heavy freight at all on a road, the rest is negligible.

There's many more passenger cars than freight trucks on the roads.

It doesn't change the math all that much, but the 1-to-1 comparisons in the thread didn't account for this factor.

handol said 8 days ago:

> Thus indeed if you have basically any heavy freight at all on a road, the rest is negligible.

Racetracks don't carry freight, but the surface does goes bad in a couple decades.

megablast said 9 days ago:

Except we need trucks. We don’t need private cars.

chrismorgan said 8 days ago:

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.

sagarm said 8 days ago:

We need transportation networks for goods. Rail is at least one alternative.

hallway_monitor said 8 days ago:

Maybe you don't, don't assume to know my needs

JohnJamesRambo said 9 days ago:

That is insane. I will remember this for life now.

cs02rm0 said 8 days ago:

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.

Add lightness, as I believe Colin Chapman put it.

jb775 said 8 days ago:

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"?

zozbot234 said 9 days ago:

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.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

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.

perlgeek said 9 days ago:

If you pay for maintenance from the general budget, you are allowing shipping companies (for example) to externalize cost that they incur on society.

This is generally a bad thing, but very concretely it led to road traffic growing much faster than rail traffic (or canal ship traffic) even in countries with a very dense rail network.

URSpider94 said 9 days ago:

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.

FpUser said 9 days ago:

>"This, and it also subsidizes people’s decisions to live far away from where they work and commute by car every day."

Hence greatly increasing chances of finding better or any employment and at least partially reducing pressure employers can come up with.

  You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
  Another day older and deeper in debt
  Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
  I owe my soul to the company store 
URSpider94 said 8 days ago:

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.

FpUser said 8 days ago:

>"That’s how it is in Japan, Korea and most places in Europe I’ve been."

To each their own.

peterwoerner said 9 days ago:

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.

URSpider94 said 8 days ago:

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.

vl said 8 days ago:

Public education is not “free”, we pay for it with out taxes. And right now we are paying, and our children are not getting an education...

Aerroon said 9 days ago:

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.

hnick said 8 days ago:

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.

URSpider94 said 8 days ago:

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.

hnick said 8 days ago:

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.

refurb said 9 days ago:

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?

yarcob said 8 days ago:

Because everyone benefits more from roads that are less congested.

If everyone rode bikes or the bus 90% of the time, there would be mostly empty roads in the 10% of time that they do use a car.

If you had to pay a significant price per km in congested areas, you'd probably drive less, but it would be a nicer experience when you do drive.

noizejoy said 9 days ago:

Paying for things in more detail has many advantages, including penalizing waste and rewarding better ideas. An exception is insurance, where you try to generalize the costs of “bad luck”.

austhrow743 said 9 days ago:

Because you want to discourage use.

AnthonyMouse said 9 days ago:

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.

URSpider94 said 8 days ago:

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.

AnthonyMouse said 8 days ago:

> 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.

berkes said 8 days ago:

The amount of NOx and CO2 emission is a direct product of use, and not (or hardly) congestion.

The world doesn't heat up slower if we manage to use roads 100% during nighttime too.

Same for wear and tear.

AnthonyMouse said 8 days ago:

> The amount of NOx and CO2 emission is a direct product of use, and not (or hardly) congestion.

We're talking about electric vehicles which don't have that. That issue can obviously be solved for gasoline and diesel vehicles via fuel taxes (which encourage people to buy electric vehicles).

> Same for wear and tear.

As discussed, nearly all of the wear and tear is a result of large heavy vehicles and the amount caused by passenger vehicles is negligible.

SECProto said 9 days ago:

> This is true, but some portion of road maintenance costs is independent from vehicle-caused wear-and-tear on the actual road surface.

Possible formula to account for all the variables:

annual tax = F * (A + [BC{D^E} ] )

A = constant for non-loading based degradation (frost heave, slope maintenance). Base tax

B = constant to scale the following terms

C = distance driven in km

D = axial weight

E = exponent to account for non-linear relationship of axial weight to road degradation

F = adjustment for usage (could adjust for anything - user type, income class, vehicle class, etc etc)

goatinaboat said 9 days ago:

This is true, but some portion of road maintenance costs is independent from vehicle-caused wear-and-tear on the actual road surface.

A lot it is caused (around here anyway) by water permeating and expanding as it freezes.

nl said 9 days ago:

Not much of that happens in Victoria, and even less in South Australia.

In South Australia we get temperature below zero maybe once every 10 years.

Victoria has some snowfields, but they are a relativity small area.

Bitumen damage from melting is a real issue though. See the pics on https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-05/melting-road-in-far-n...

girvo said 9 days ago:

In Australia, the heat melting the bitumen is infinitely more likely than water damage.

1123581321 said 9 days ago:

Road wear creates the variations that ice exacerbates.

tgb said 9 days ago:

A lot of road damage in some parts of the world is caused by nature itself, though. Even roads without any freight traffic get frost heaves.

chrismorgan said 9 days ago:

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.

cam_l said 9 days ago:

I have had bitumen melt onto my shoes in summer though.

sagarm said 8 days ago:

Mountain highways I've traveled have substantially more damaged right lanes from all the semis.

angry_octet said 8 days ago:

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.

cellularmitosis said 8 days ago:

Is it known if this is purely a weight issue, or does weight distribution make a difference? If a large truck were equipped with twice as many tires at half the PSI, what difference would that make?

I’ve seen weight limit signs on certain roads, I wonder if instead they should be PSI limits?

berkes said 8 days ago:

I'd imagine a 20 tire truck of 1tonne roughly equals 5 4-tire cars of 200kg.

So that would mean the first still has to pay 5x the tax of the latter.

AnthonyMouse said 9 days ago:

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.

sokoloff said 8 days ago:

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.

AnthonyMouse said 8 days ago:

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.

fuoqi said 9 days ago:

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.

beezle said 9 days ago:

On an individual level perhaps so but probably not when you consider the number of cars vs the number of heavy transports.

fennecfoxen said 9 days ago:

Fourth power of the axle weight.

lmilcin said 9 days ago:

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.

AlotOfReading said 9 days ago:

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.

jholman said 9 days ago:

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.


worked example:

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.

lmilcin said 9 days ago:

Yes, earmarking is smoke and mirrors.

The reality is, roads would be maintained the same way with or without earmarked tax revenue.

URSpider94 said 8 days ago:

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.

lmilcin said 8 days ago:

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.

kelnos said 9 days ago:

Per the article, in Australia the fuel excise does not go toward road maintenance, but instead goes into the general fund.

notatoad said 9 days ago:

This is true, but the highway trust fund is not funded exclusively by fuel taxes, it's funded from the general fund


URSpider94 said 8 days ago:

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.

SEJeff said 9 days ago:

And in the US, the overwhelming majority of road damage is done by long haul freight semi trucks, not electric or ICE cars.

lotsofpulp said 9 days ago:

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.

conanbatt said 9 days ago:

Budgeting is often quite fungible and you can replace where to spend new money by replacing old money.

I would say that 60% of taxes might be raised for health and education this way.

chii said 9 days ago:

and the article is specifically talking about australia, which doesn't have specific tax buckets for a purpose.

sagarm said 8 days ago:

Gas taxes pay less than half of the costs of maintaining roads.

askvictor said 8 days ago:

> 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.

ip26 said 9 days ago:

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.

riversflow said 9 days ago:

2 things. 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.[1] 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[2] 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.

[1] https://streets.mn/2016/07/07/chart-of-the-day-vehicle-weigh...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chipseal

dalbasal said 9 days ago:

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. =

said 9 days ago:
mikeklaas said 9 days ago:

Good thought, but that might incentivize not replacing worn tires

reitzensteinm said 9 days ago:

This is exactly right. You're in a sense taxing safety!

ip26 said 9 days ago:

Yeah, thinking more you are right. The tax would be quite substantial too, and probably drive a large black market.

rconti said 9 days ago:

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 :)

jejones3141 said 9 days ago:

Jack up tax and let the market decide? Those seem inconsistent.

URSpider94 said 9 days ago:

That might be rational, but it’s highly unpopular with the 99% of people who don’t drive electric cars. This is virtue signaling,

_-___________-_ said 9 days ago:

Incentivising some behaviour is basically always unpopular with the group currently doing the opposite behaviour.

CogentHedgehog said 9 days ago:

So you're saying the 1% of people driving electric cars should pay for the climate change caused by the 99% that are not?

GreenWatermelon said 8 days ago:

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.

markdown said 9 days ago:

If you make it too expensive to change tires, people will drive for much longer with worn out tires, risking lives.

said 9 days ago:
an_opabinia said 9 days ago:

> 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.

Thlom said 8 days ago:

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.

kortilla said 9 days ago:

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.

davidivadavid said 9 days ago:

As a European, 13.1 l/100 km seems... insane. What's happening here?

ElKrist said 9 days ago:

I've lived both in France and Australia.

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).

chrismorgan said 9 days ago:

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.

rbg246 said 9 days ago:

You need to go to Europe to see the little cars then.

Australia has half price petrol to Europe and you see this in both car size and engine size.

Also I have read (newspaper so who knows) that Australia allows far more fuel inefficient cars than Europe.


But equally we have a lower percentage of diesel cars which is great for not dying


anthonygd said 9 days ago:

I don't see why a large family would be an excuse. You need a large vehicle because you chose to need a large vehicle?

javagram said 9 days ago:

A large family creates many future taxpayers. The state has an interest in subsidizing or at least not discouraging the creation of large families

mulmen said 9 days ago:

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.

sampo said 9 days ago:

> It is not clear to me how a large family is a net tax benefit

Some of the children from a large rural families will move to cities and make careers that pay lots of taxes. Cities almost always have lower birthrates than countryside.

mulmen said 9 days ago:

Yes, we need children. That's not a question. The question is if a single couple needs to produce so many children they drive a vehicle so massive is earns tax breaks.

javagram said 8 days ago:

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.

said 7 days ago:
dschuler said 9 days ago:

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.

skrebbel said 8 days ago:

Most things I need, I need because I chose to need them.

oblio said 9 days ago:

> towing your boat/jet ski etc.

A 180-200 BHP sedan can tow a trailer quite easily. You don't need a big SUV for that.

ungamedplayer said 9 days ago:

Spotted the "Victoria on the move" plates struggling to accelerate uphill in Queensland on a single lane road delaying the locals trip by an hour to get milk.

leetcrew said 9 days ago:

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.

oblio said 8 days ago:

I've seen SOOOO many sedans and station wagons pulling trailers here in Europe. The Dutch are especially fond of camping with their trailers and I rarely see any of them using SUVs or anything bigger.

What you're saying is likely not true.

jashmatthews said 8 days ago:

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.

jashmatthews said 9 days ago:

Here in Australia and New Zealand we regularly tow boats with Aussie sedans like a Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore e.g. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ford_Falcon_XR8_Ute_...

Someone said 9 days ago:

13.1 includes buses and trucks. Actual for passenger vehicles is 10.6.


“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.”

benhurmarcel said 9 days ago:

That's still surprisingly high.

jackvalentine said 9 days ago:

I think it's likely that the average Australian vehicle is heavier, since the average European/Australian passenger vehicle is the same age (10.x years).

Maybe our sulferous crap fuel has something to do with it too. I don't know.

_-___________-_ said 9 days ago:

Many of the cars you see on European streets would seem a bit... small... to many Australians.

sampsonitify said 8 days ago:

And the roads in reverse. Australian roads are massive (and fast) compared to Europe.

_-___________-_ said 7 days ago:

Outside of the cities, this isn't true - Australian speed limits and average driving speed on highways is much lower than basically anywhere in Europe.

Inside cities, Australia definitely does have higher average speeds than inside most European cities though.

jashmatthews said 8 days ago:

This is true of urban areas but not expressways. Motorway limits vary from 120 (Spain) to 140 (Poland) with Germany having sections of unlimited autobahn.

chrismorgan said 9 days ago:

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.

CountHackulus said 9 days ago:

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.

dzhiurgis said 8 days ago:

Mazda Cx7 here. 10l/100km highway, 12l city. Pretty in efficient older Mazdas. That said much larger cx9 with 3.7l engine uses same.

sjwright said 9 days ago:

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.

rbg246 said 9 days ago:

Can confirm I do 8-9l per 100km in Melbourne with my Toyota Corolla.

But when Im in traffic in the morning the number of 'consumer' (non work purpose) SUV / 4WDs is fairly significant and they would all be doing at least the average.

chrismorgan said 8 days ago:

(It occurs to me now, hours later, that I completely forgot to mention that my Mazda 3 is a diesel.)

tiew9Vii said 9 days ago:

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.

zizee said 9 days ago:

This is because it is not correct. Australians on average do drive bigger cars than in europe, but the average petrol consumption of passenger vehicles is 10.8 l/100km.


pmontra said 9 days ago:

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.

alkonaut said 9 days ago:

Has to be including heavy vehicles?

Australians still by V8’s but not that many of them can be...

dmurray said 9 days ago:

It is including heavy vehicles, but also motorcycles. The average for "passenger vehicles" is still about 10.5 l/km. Just bigger cars I think.


Baeocystin said 9 days ago:

Motorcycles, perhaps surprisingly, aren't all that much more efficient than regular gas cars. The tl;dr is that their aerodynamics are terrible, and their engines not tuned for fuel efficiency.

jholman said 9 days ago:

Hmn. Brief research seems to show that you're more correct than I would have expected, but also that it's less true than I think you imply.

For example, https://afdc.energy.gov/data/10310 gives motorcycles as almost 2x as efficient as cars, almost 3x as efficient as "light truck / van".

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.

Baeocystin said 9 days ago:

>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.

Taken from https://autowise.com/motorcycle-vs-car-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.

jondumbau said 9 days ago:

Many motorcycles didn't come with cats in the 2000s, combined with lots of high strung 600s running massive valve overlap.

But the modern class of commuter bike has got to be pretty good. Drag coefficient is poor but they're also a much smaller area, and city driving is more forgiving for aero.

names_are_hard said 8 days ago:

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.

names_are_hard said 8 days ago:

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.

jholman said 9 days ago:

Ah, hmn, that is a very good point.

Per my previous comment, motorcycles are more efficient that cars, in terms of consumption of fuel. (though not as much as I'd have thought)

But they're also worse on emissions, which is the public harm that is of greater interest here.

And yikes, those numbers.

Baeocystin said 9 days ago:

It's pretty shocking, isn't it.


The good news is that as batteries improve, bike like the all-electric Zero line are going to get both more popular and more affordable. I'm looking forward to when I can get one!

dzhiurgis said 8 days ago:

Yesterday morning just before 6AM we had some sort of maniac coming around entire suburb and reving their bike, just having a joy ride.

I was about to maim him. I hate loud vehicles.

BlueTemplar said 9 days ago:

I suppose just larger cars coming from larger roads and smaller fuel tax ?

IronRanger said 9 days ago:

The solution is to tax vehicles by weight, and time and location of use.

Melbourne, the State Capital of Victoria, has a big problem with congestion at peak hours.

If road use charging like in Singapore or London was introduced, it would shift usage to non-peak hours, and raise sufficient revenue to offset fuel excise.

But that's politically difficult - whereas applying a tax to EVs, which currently very few people use, is much easier.

AmericanChopper said 9 days ago:

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.

ungamedplayer said 9 days ago:

That.. and a person can walk across it in a day. You cant walk across brisbane or many of the capitals in Australia in a day.

Thlom said 8 days ago:

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.

AmericanChopper said 8 days ago:

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.

kanox said 9 days ago:

> 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.

kilotaras said 8 days ago:

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.

Gibbon1 said 8 days ago:

I thought of that for a long time. Finally decided that fines should be handed over the Social Security Admin and booked against the offenders account.

bigbubba said 9 days ago:

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.

stouset said 9 days ago:

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?

repsilat said 9 days ago:

Progressiveness should happen elsewhere -- in income taxes and transfer payments. The road user charges can be regressive without making the whole system regressive.

If every part of the system needs to be progressive it's much more difficult to get the behavioural incentives you want.

bigbubba said 9 days ago:

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.

zozbot234 said 9 days ago:

You could tax electricity at public EV charging stations. That would have the same desirable distribution properties as the existing gas tax.

bigbubba said 9 days ago:

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.

dmurray said 9 days ago:

It's likely most electricity for EVs will be consumed at home, though.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

In Germany, water used for watering your lawn is taxed differently from water you use to fill your tub. I'm sure we could mandate a separate meter for recharging cars.

Scoundreller said 9 days ago:

Just curious, are there 2 meters?

(I think we do it smarter for electricity: the first x kWh at one rate, then up from there, among other billing complexities).

detaro said 9 days ago:

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.

Scoundreller said 9 days ago:

Ah. I guess this is all because you don’t get charged for sewerage on the lawn watering.

devilbunny said 6 days ago:

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.

dschuler said 9 days ago:

Can confirm, I’ve seen a dual-meter setup for garden water in Germany.

oh_sigh said 9 days ago:

But regardless of whether you charge your EV at home or at a supercharger, you will almost certainly be using it on public roads.

Scoundreller said 9 days ago:

> 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:



Gibbon1 said 9 days ago:

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.

xupybd said 9 days ago:

Pay as you go roads?

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.

bigbubba said 9 days ago:

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.

oh_sigh said 9 days ago:

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.

bigbubba said 9 days ago:

The 'mass' in 'mass surveillance' is a matter of degree. Most roads are not presently toll roads. Most are not presently tracking all cars that drive on them.

I don't find 'some surveillance happens already, so we may as well go all in' a compelling argument.

oh_sigh said 9 days ago:

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.

jdashg said 9 days ago:

Is this a problem big enough to be worth solving?

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!

Scoundreller said 9 days ago:

They’ve cracked down on it online. eBay now collects sales taxes on all US sales.

As a Canadian, I can’t offer my items as “no tax” if I include US as a shipping destination.

yaacov said 9 days ago:

> 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.

horsawlarway said 9 days ago:

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.

ACow_Adonis said 9 days ago:

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.

lopmotr said 9 days ago:

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.

ACow_Adonis said 9 days ago:

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.

souprock said 9 days ago:

It doesn't make sense from a virus perspective. Public transport is a thing of the past.

ACow_Adonis said 9 days ago:

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.

Wowfunhappy said 9 days ago:

> 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.

And what of the damage that non-electric vehicles do to the environment? Shouldn't we be accounting for that?

At least roads can be easily repaired.

qqn said 7 days ago:

"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."

Terry Pratchett, https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/72745-the-reason-that-the-r...

gambiting said 9 days ago:

"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??

0xfaded said 9 days ago:

  1. Ford Ranger
  2. Toyota Hilux
  3. Toyota Rav4
  4. Hyundai i30
  5. Mazda CX5
  6. Toyota Land Cruiser
13.1L/100km seems pretty good in context.
gambiting said 9 days ago:

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.

0xfaded said 9 days ago:

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 ...

mcguire said 9 days ago:

For USians, that's 18 mpg. Low, but not horrible for some trucks and large SUVs.

rconti said 9 days ago:

can't be a fleet average though.

donaltroddyn said 9 days ago:

How do you track the number of Kms driven? Is it possible to do so while maintaining the privacy of individuals?

singhrac said 9 days ago:

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?

bigbubba said 9 days ago:

How do you distribute the money to places where people drive but don't live? Gas tax handles this to an extent, but milage tax wouldn't; not without border checkpoints or mass surveillance.

canofbars said 9 days ago:

The government has stats on how busy easy road is. Just pool all of the money and distribute it based on those stats.

singhrac said 8 days ago:

To give an example - in my hometown in a few places there are small wires on the road surface that measure the number of cars that drive over it. Private by default!

donaltroddyn said 9 days ago:

I don't think Odometers are reliable enough, especially as the basis for a tax. You'd certainly see an increase in average tyre size!

adrianN said 9 days ago:

They're probably accurate to within less than 10%. How many kilometers would you have to drive to save a dollar from slightly bigger tyres?

donaltroddyn said 9 days ago:

I was being slightly facetious in referencing tyre size, although people regularly have to adjust speedo/odometers by 10% or more when fitting large tyres on off-roaders.

Odometers can have their values changed at will, at least in ICE vehicles, often for valid reasons.

jdashg said 9 days ago:

Fudging do numbers illicitly is already a huge no-no in the US.

donaltroddyn said 9 days ago:

It also is in Ireland, but there are valid reasons, such as as replacing an ECU or dash cluster.

Unless auto manufacturers are required to fit much more secure odometers, I can't see them in their current incarnation used as the basis for a tax.

lopmotr said 9 days ago:

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.

Too said 8 days ago:

It's more difficult than that: How do you track the number of Kms driven on public roads. As claimed purpose of tax was to cover the wear on these.

jeffbee said 9 days ago:

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.

robocat said 9 days ago:


* One litre of petrol creates 2.3kg of CO².

* A going market price for an offset is $25-50 per metric ton

So the tax per litre to offset the CO² is 6 to 12 cents.

mulmen said 9 days ago:

I think use tax on infrastructure is a bad idea full stop. If you want to encourage more efficient cars or less driving do it with car tabs.

I don't need to drive my car on a road to derive value form it. In the same way that I don't have children but still benefit from schools.

Property taxes should be the source of funding for infrastructure projects.

Use taxes are regressive and result in underfunded infrastructure with the wealthy paying less and adding another barrier to the poor making ends meet.

CryptoPunk said 9 days ago:

>>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.

brokenmachine said 9 days ago:

>tax all drivers based on (vehicle weight x kms driven x some constant).

But what about my mates who own the trucking companies? Are you implying they should pay their fair share?

viraptor said 9 days ago:

> tax all drivers based on (... kms driven

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.

horsawlarway said 9 days ago:

No reason to not just tie it to the rego.

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.

Too said 8 days ago:

Trucks already have regular checkups of odometer, to verify speed limits has not been exceeded, not 100% sure but it might even include checking time in flight, for sleeping-regulations. In Europe.

coryrc said 9 days ago:

The vast majority of road damage is done by heavy trucks. Don't need to tax these cars at all.

tshaddox said 9 days ago:

Passenger car road taxes are an immense subsidy of road freight.

chrismorgan said 9 days ago:

… 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.

horsawlarway said 9 days ago:

I think there's a lot of truth in that. That why I was so specific about including weight as a factor.

bnt said 9 days ago:

But you still need to maintain existing and build new roads, and not only trucks drive on the road. What about snow? It needs to be removed for normal cars as well as trucks.

tshaddox said 9 days ago:

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.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

It also needs to be removed for bicycles and pedestrians, who don't pay special taxes for that.

bnt said 9 days ago:

But bicycles don’t cause air pollution nor do they damage the roads. So you got me puzzled why they should be taxes. Pedestrians are taxed too much anyway

adrianN said 9 days ago:

I was making an argument against taxing EVs. Or I tried to.

coryrc said 9 days ago:

In the USA, snow removal is (mostly) not paid from gas tax.

Growth should pay for growth, so, no, we also don't need to pay for new roads.

Roads are also funded by property tax.

perlgeek said 9 days ago:

> 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.

lutorm said 9 days ago:

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.

JTbane said 9 days ago:

Or just increase the gas and diesel taxes, which has a win-win of encouraging EV adoption and cutting down on CO2 emissions.

seanmcdirmid said 9 days ago:

Taxing by weight will put EVs at a disadvantage given batteries are heavy compared to fully loaded fuel tanks.

truculent said 9 days ago:

> Perhaps it's time to ditch the fuel excise tax entirely, and tax all drivers based on (vehicle weight * kms driven * some constant).

How about means testing through progressive taxation of income or wealth?

wldcordeiro said 9 days ago:

That sounds like a solution that wouldn't ever get traction in the US with the love of stupidly large trucks and SUVs.

coco87 said 9 days ago:

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

somesortofsystm said 9 days ago:

I dunno, I think this is a pretty draconian imposition by a state known for its decadence in a country that used to like to think it was a leader in building new infrastructure in tough conditions.

With all the energy resources at Australians' disposal, it sure seems off-kilter to not be rewarding those who chose to go more efficient.

Would that there were Australias own local industry capable of competing with Tesla .. and I say that as a once-proud Australian.

With a local industry leading the way, as usual, the Australian government could get a clue.

lopmotr said 9 days ago:

They will be rewarded. It's half the tax of petrol vehicles and the fuels is also much cheaper on top of that.

somesortofsystm said 8 days ago:

The point is, Australia could move off fossil fuels quicker than most other countries, and has one of the biggest motivators for doing so - its environment.

However, the will of the people is not there. Or at least, the technology to disrupt Australia's coal and oil junkies, isn't there.

bbarnett said 9 days ago:

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.

But I do not want that here.

ryan_j_naughton said 9 days ago:

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.

bbarnett said 9 days ago:

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.

At the pump.

m0zg said 9 days ago:

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.

mullingitover said 9 days ago:

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.

war1025 said 9 days ago:

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.

mullingitover said 8 days ago:

> 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.

I'm skeptical about that claim.

"Freight trucks cause 99% of wear-and-tear on US roads, but only pay for 35% of the maintenance. This $60B subsidy causes extra congestion and pollution, and taxpayers pay the bill."[1]

[1] https://truecostblog.com/2009/06/02/the-hidden-trucking-indu...

koheripbal said 8 days ago:

Clicking through to sources in you source finds most are based on individual opinions, not studies.

goodcanadian said 8 days ago:

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.

war1025 said 8 days ago:

> 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 [1] 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.

[1] https://www.midamericanenergy.com/nr-solaract

scoopertrooper said 8 days ago:

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.

taion said 8 days ago:

Per the piece, it's actually "2.5c a kilometre", or $0.025, so the EV driver is still paying quite a bit less.

scoopertrooper said 8 days ago:

Oops! Should read more carefully!

abnry said 9 days ago:

> Thus, fees should scale exponentially with vehicle weight.

Work is force times distance. You have to factor in how much the vehicle is on the road, and the gas used is a decent proxy measure of that.

jpollock said 9 days ago:

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.



layoric said 9 days ago:

This approach makes sense, but with Australia, EV sales are not close to 2% and are still 0.6% [0], 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.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/19/electric...

fy20 said 9 days ago:

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).

Dumblydorr said 9 days ago:

These are island nations without their own fuel production and good renewable potential. Wouldn't they see it's in their best interest to maximize batteries to minimize fuel imports?

nordsieck said 9 days ago:

> These are island nations without their own fuel production and good renewable potential. Wouldn't they see it's in their best interest to maximize batteries to minimize fuel imports?

Presumably that applies at the individual consumer level as well.

jpollock said 9 days ago:

New Zealand is an oil and gas exporter. They have their own gasoline refinery as well.

This doesn’t maximize batteries, it impoverishes transport budgets (public transit and reading) and is a tax rebate primarily available to the wealthy, like solar panels.

There are good reasons to electrify the the transport system, but the transport network will still need to be funded.

x87678r said 9 days ago:

Specifically Diesel in NZ is not taxed because most a huge amount used by Farmers for tractors and/or generators so RUCs were added to charge diesel trucks.

jdhn said 9 days ago:

I don't understand the opposition to this. These vehicles continue to use roads but don't pay any taxes that would help maintain roads if they were gas or diesel cars. How is that fair?

josephcsible said 9 days ago:

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.

octodog said 9 days ago:

Implementing the tax now makes sense because it brings ICE and EV into alignment now, while usage is relatively low, rather than suddenly introducing a tax down the proverbial road.

To incentive switching the government has other policy tools at their disposal, such as a one-off subsidy at purchase time.

the8472 said 9 days ago:

> Implementing the tax now makes sense because it brings ICE and EV into alignment now

It doesn't. ICE vehicles are effectively subsidized by not pricing in externalties. The playing field was never level, suddenly insisting that it ought to be is a selective demand for rigor.

josephcsible said 9 days ago:

> it brings ICE and EV into alignment now

I know it does. My point is that bringing them into alignment now isn't a good thing.

refurb said 9 days ago:

"we should be giving EVs special ("unfair") benefits to encourage people to switch"

Sure, but at least in the US, electric vehicles already get numerous other benefits include tax rebates, lower registration fees, HOV lane access, etc.

josephcsible said 8 days ago:

> tax rebates

Not Tesla or GM.

> lower registration fees, HOV lane access

Not in most states.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

Gas and diesel cars don't pay for the damage they cause to the climate, or for the local air pollution. How is that fair?

ajmurmann said 9 days ago:

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.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

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.

Sabinus said 9 days ago:

>You know what else will lead to unrest? Unmitigated climate change.

Yeah in 10-50 years. Not now. People that aren't part of the intelligentsia don't see it a threat yet.

tshaddox said 8 days ago:

This piece of pie every day won’t cause obesity now. Maybe in a few months.

bigbubba said 9 days ago:

> That is the real problem

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.

xd said 9 days ago:

What's the cost of mining lithium for starters.. before talking about fair.

edit: down voted for stating facts.. I've noticed this place is becoming very ideological.. or maybe I'm getting old.

matthewmacleod said 9 days ago:

You didn't state any facts though.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

What's the cost of oil spills? It's not like gas and diesel magically flow out of the pump either.

xd said 9 days ago:

I never said anything that implied gas wasn't an issue .. simply stating a truth bomb about EV's environmental and human costs; lithium mining being the biggest one.

zemvpferreira said 9 days ago:

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.

ohmaigad said 9 days ago:

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).


xd said 9 days ago:

Not an argument, just a point of view for which I'm open to any and all.

edit: but the cost of rare earth mining is huge and if you don't want to do your own research... that's your call.

said 9 days ago:
Johnythree said 8 days ago:

Never mind that Lithium is not a rare earth element, nor are cobalt, manganese, or any of the other key components of a lithium-ion battery.

jdhn said 9 days ago:

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.

Dumblydorr said 9 days ago:

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.

Zigurd said 9 days ago:

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.

AdrianB1 said 9 days ago:

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.

Zigurd said 9 days ago:

In the real world, diesels should be taken off the road as quickly as possible due to the impracticality of controlling particulate emissions and the damage to human health caused by those emissions.

Also, euro 6 emission standards are for diesel passenger cars. Diesel cars, even with strict emission controls, still emit too much dangerous particulates.

fogihujy said 8 days ago:

It'll take generations to get rid of all current diesel engines. We need stuff like e-diesel as a stop-gap solution, because things like farming machinery are rarely replaced.

brogrammer2018 said 9 days ago:

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.

Lammy said 9 days ago:

Probably a lot of Tesla owners on here upset at the thought of losing any of the privilege it brings.

Full EVs do more damage to the road than ICE vehicles since they’re a lot heavier. I’m totally pro-EV, but we should definitely pay some part of the tax necessary to maintain the roads we drive on.

Some quick searches show:

Mazda MX-5 Miata MY2020 base curb weight: 2403lbs

Toyota Prius MY2020 base curb weight: 3010lbs

Tesla model 3 base curb weight: 4072lbs

dmurray said 9 days ago:

That's an incredibly disingenuous comparison. The Miata is a two-passenger roadster, and one of the lightest cars on the road. The Model 3 is a 4-door sedan.

Lammy said 9 days ago:

I tried to think of a fun car that goes fast and a thicc hatchback that can carry stuff, because the Tesla is kinda both :D

oh_sigh said 9 days ago:

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.

dschuler said 9 days ago:

ICE vehicles aren’t front-heavy like that, it would be terrible for braking performance.

oh_sigh said 9 days ago:

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.

guerby said 9 days ago:

Model 3 SR+ is 3627 lbs

topkeks said 9 days ago:

"Full EVs do more damage to the road than ICE vehicles since they’re a lot heavier."

You have to be literally retarded to actually believe in this Trump propaganda.

tshaddox said 8 days ago:

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.

rconti said 9 days ago:

There's a huge gulf between not understanding opposition to a particular scheme, and thinking the existing scheme is unfair.

I didn't see anything in this article about how it's levied, for one. Are they doing vehicle tracking, as was proposed in places in the US? Certainly I can see opposition to that.

Maybe people driving a Renault Twizy don't think it's fair to pay the same tax per mile as an electric Hummer (whenever that comes out).

All kinds of reasons to be opposed to it.

mtgx said 9 days ago:

Trucks do...wait for it...1,400x more damage to roads than standard passenger vehicles do.

blendo said 9 days ago:

We could put the tax on each tire. $1 per tire for a Miata, $100 per tire for an 18-wheeler. Just look at the tire load rating.

Also, tax based on tire speed rating, to capture the 0.5 m v^2 energy.

waiseristy said 9 days ago:

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

xd said 9 days ago:

Probably because they transport 1,400x more economic goods?

Sabinus said 9 days ago:

Then the cost of those goods should reflect the cost they put on the road transport system. It may make rail more competitive, or increase the incentive for local manufacture.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

No, because road damage is proportional to axle weight to the fourth power.

xd said 9 days ago:

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

adrianN said 9 days ago:

Yes, but note the "to the fourth power".

9HZZRfNlpR said 9 days ago:

But EVs themselves are very heavy compared to similar gas powered cars.

adrianN said 9 days ago:

A truck still does orders of magnitude more damage. "To the fourth power" makes a big difference.

xd said 9 days ago:

What about EV trucks?

dsq said 9 days ago:

Governments that have fuel excise taxes will do anything to keep their income flowing, including sabotaging EVs and public transport. This is why I would always snicker when reading Tom Friedman's harping on a fuel excise tax: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/opinion/20friedman.html

Every new tax always leads to increased spending then to more tax ad nauseum.

mytailorisrich said 9 days ago:

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...

ffggvv said 9 days ago:

how is that sabotage? it’s just not exempting them from a road tax

moralsupply said 9 days ago:

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.

BlueTemplar said 9 days ago:

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.

moralsupply said 9 days ago:

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.

loufe said 9 days ago:

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.

moralsupply said 9 days ago:

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.

dragonwriter said 9 days ago:

> 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.

moralsupply said 9 days ago:

> 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.

BlueTemplar said 8 days ago:

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.

moralsupply said 8 days ago:

> 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.

sydneycatalyst said 9 days ago:

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.

throwaway0a5e said 9 days ago:

>I think that road users should pay to use the road.

I think we should have pay to use parks. And schools.

What's the point of having government funded infrastructure if not to make it equally available to all regardless of means?

sydneycatalyst said 9 days ago:

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.

Tiktaalik said 9 days ago:

To be able to use the road at all requires buying a car, which is expensive. No such barriers in park use. Let's be clear, roads are for wealthy people, not the poor.

(Yes I know bicycles and buses use the road too, but if that's all we built roads for we wouldn't need so many!)

sydneycatalyst said 9 days ago:

I agree!

Well, besides not being blind or otherwise barred from driving through no fault of your own... :-)

tshaddox said 8 days ago:

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.

upofadown said 9 days ago:

>It points out the petrol excise goes into general revenue rather than road funding...

OK, but this is incomplete. We would have to know how much the government spends on roads. For all we know the government spends more than they get in excise tax.

schappim said 9 days ago:

In Australia most already fall under the Federal “Luxury Car Tax”[1]. Cars with a luxury car tax (LCT) value over the LCT threshold attract an LCT rate of 33%.

A Tesla model 3 starts at $AUD 66,900 in Australia.


Causality1 said 9 days ago:

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.

peapicker said 9 days ago:

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.

AdrianB1 said 9 days ago:

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.

cityofdelusion said 9 days ago:

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).

blisterpeanuts said 9 days ago:

This sounds fair except that trucks perform an essential service. Heavy taxation of the trucking industry just raises the price of food and other necessities.

horsawlarway said 9 days ago:

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.

ggreer said 9 days ago:

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.

blisterpeanuts said 9 days ago:

But you'd need more trucks to move equivalent goods; seems like a wash to me.

ggreer said 9 days ago:

The point is to tax externalities so that incentives are aligned. In this case you'd get much less road wear for the same cargo delivered.

Tiktaalik said 9 days ago:

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.

Tepix said 9 days ago:

EVs create less toxic road dust from braking.

As long as there's so few EVs on the road, it makes no sense to tax them. You want more EVs, right?

quicklime said 9 days ago:

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.

Tiktaalik said 9 days ago:

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.

tinus_hn said 9 days ago:

So is Australia that country that actually uses the road tax to pay for roads?

Zenbit_UX said 9 days ago:

No but they are that country that was on fire this year due to climate change... How quickly they've forgotten.

Guthur said 9 days ago:

Nope, you don't know what you're talking about.

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.

Ardren said 9 days ago:

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.



rbg246 said 9 days ago:

No what you are saying is not true or rather it's a deliberate obfuscation of the leading cause of the fires- climate change.

Rainforests that have not burnt before, burned last year.

The fires that exploded across Australia were unprecedented and never burn so rapidly and so hot.

Former fire fighter chiefs saying the opposite of what you are saying:

"Just a 1C temperature rise has meant the extremes are far more extreme, and it is placing lives at risk, including firefighters"


guerby said 9 days ago:

Tax on using roads make sense as road maintenance costs money that has to come from somewhere.

But climate change is also a question of timing and transition, EV will be taxed at some point what about timing and message:

- do we want to replace fossil fuel for transportation? - if so how fast do we want to do it?

Taxing EV right now might not be the best idea...

EV is also less imports, less pollution (including less noise) so it will have some net positive budgetary effect.

alkonaut said 9 days ago:

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.

megablast said 9 days ago:

Good. Cars are the problem, electric or gas. Electric only solves one problem, cars still cause huge amounts of pollution.

KMag said 8 days ago:

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.

floatingatoll said 8 days ago:

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!

transfire said 8 days ago:

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.

dawnerd said 9 days ago:

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.

blisterpeanuts said 9 days ago:

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.

Zigurd said 9 days ago:

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.

tomp said 9 days ago:

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).

Dylan16807 said 9 days ago:

There are different ways to ship by truck. Maybe you want to encourage more axles and a slightly lighter max load, which could easily drop the damage by a factor of 10.

thewileyone said 5 days ago:

This is an additional tax on top of the existing road tax? That's not a good way to encourage responsibility for the environment.

ezzaf said 9 days ago:

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).

said 9 days ago:
callesgg said 8 days ago:

Assuming they don’t have car ownership tax???

backtoyoujim said 9 days ago:

can't wait for the "work from home tax".

SilentBan said 9 days ago:

Is there a country that is more despicable than Australia? I mean among the civilized world, not about the Russias and Chinas of the world.

troughway said 9 days ago:

When the brunt of the complaints amounts to people tweeting discontent, you know where things are headed. That’s the only real shame in this whole ordeal.

bedhead said 9 days ago:

I love these little examples of the government acting literally like mafia bosses.

StreamBright said 9 days ago:

That, and it usually against progress.

hourislate said 9 days ago:

Follow the money.

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.