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Vote nears on Legislatures Keep Tesla Afloat Act
dennis Wyatt web
Dennis Wyatt

The world is coming to an end if we don't cut greenhouse emissions.

We know this because Gov. Jerry Brown said it was so as he implored the California Legislature to save civilization by extending the cap and trade program.

So if things are so dire, how come the governor, the Legislature and every state agency with pool cars aren't all driving electric vehicles?

They are the number one culprit when it comes to greenhouse emissions, right?

If the end time is near, Sacramento, then there needs to be a law that an auto stipend provided to legislators and other state officials can only be used to buy electric cars.

An order should also go out that any agencies replacing cars need to do so only with electric vehicles. After all, Sacramento did decree we must have 1.5 million zero emissions vehicles on the road by 2025. There are now 250,000 such vehicles. If they expect everyone else to follow they need to lead and not just half-heartedly.

The pool cars that the state buys for Assembly and Senate members to use at the Capitol are all Ford Fusion hybrids. Personally, I'd take a Ford Fusion hybrid any day of the week over a Tesla but that's not the point.

Even though I'd argue a hybrid is a more effective way in terms of cost of to reduce emissions as they are more affordable, the sages under the Golden Dome have decreed zero emissions is the only way to prevent air quality Armageddon. So why are they only going halfway?

Money has never been a concern of the Legislature so that can't be it. Perhaps it is still a pain to drive 100 percent electrics based on range, the availability of charging stations and recharging time. Most electrics take three or more hours to recharge while the Tesla S takes 45 minutes on a 240 volt outlet. The super charging stations can get a car up to 50 percent in about 20 minutes. That's a lot longer than a typical gas station fill up.

It could be the interior but Teslas are fairly nice. Or perhaps lawmakers simply want to pick and choose what they want for their fleet cars and those vehicles they drive that the public contributes $300 a month toward.

Regardless of the reason, the Legislature is not taking the medicine they are prescribing for the rest of us.

Yet they have no problem punishing those of us that drive hybrids or straight gas vehicles to subsidize those that can afford to buy electric cars.

The latest punishment is in the form of a $3 billion income transfer to essentially help people with the means to afford a Tesla, which apparently is California's official state car like the Golden Poppy is the official state flower.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, got his colleagues to embrace the plan. It is now awaiting a vote in the state Senate.

For true transparency it should be called the "Keep Tesla Afloat Act."

The state has had a $2,500 tax credit in place for electric car buyers since 2010. It was trimmed back a few months ago by basing it on income eligibility as the program waits for additional funding. At the same time the federal tax credit of $7,500 a car is expected to go away soon as it nears the 200,000th car limit that will exhaust the funds.

How big of a concern is this to Elon Musk, the National Poster Child for getting rich of taxpayer subsidies and tax credits?

Hong Kong drivers in March registered 2,939 new Teslas. None were registered in April. What happened? The effective $50,000 tax credit provided by Hong Kong went away raising the cost of a Tesla S four-door sedan to $130,000.

Ting's bill would up the tax credit to effectively make up for the pending loss of the federal tax credit and create a sliding scale for the tax credit that would go from $10,000 to as high as $30,000 depending upon the buyer's income.

The soaking of the "poor" and the middle class that can't scrap up $60,000 plus to pay for a Tesla gets worse.

If you drive a vehicle 12,000 miles a year that averages 30 miles per gallon, you will be paying $200 a year in gas taxes for road repairs. Currently Tesla drivers pay nothing but starting in 2018 all zero emission vehicles will pay a $100 fee to go toward maintaining the roads they drive on. Essentially they will be paying $100 less than a typical California motorist in any given year for road work.

If California reaches its 1.5 million mark for zero emission vehicles by 2025, the road fund will be shorted $125 million a year. Over the course of 10 years that will short the gas tax collection for roads estimated at $52 billion by $1.25 billion.

Guess who will get to make up the difference?

And let's not forget Tesla has already benefitted on the back end by a ton of state tax breaks including $174 million in sales tax suspensions for equipment purchased for their Fremont factory.

Since it is clear that Sacramento believes what Tesla does is critical for California's ability to stay standing, then the state needs to retire all of its SUVs and other sedans and purchase Tesla models at taxpayer expense for state employees using a pool car and require any state official given an auto allowance to buy a Tesla.

After all the future of Elon Musk, I mean, California depends on it.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.