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Good & Bad News for Transportation Funding, and Environment

Posted by Larry Ehl on Friday, August 10th, 2012

Transportation Issues Daily

First-half 2012 sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles hold some good and bad news for transportation and environment stakeholders.

January-June sales of electric-only cars rose 6% – an increase of just 234 cars – over 2011. A little over 4100 EVs were purchased. However, plug-in hybrid vehicles sales increased 381% in the first six months of 2012, to more than 13,000. (“Plug-in hybrid sales soar; all-electric cars stay in low gear,” L.A. Times.)

Electric-only vehicles don’t contribute federal gas taxes; plug-in hybrids contribute only a little.  So the slow vehicle sales is good news for the federal highway trust fund, which will shrink even more if EV sales take off.

But the slow sales are bad news for our communities’ environment. Electric and hybrid vehicles contribute fewer emissions, obviously.  So greater sales enable communities to have better air quality. For cities whose population is expected to grow in coming decades, electric and plug-in vehicles can certainly help achieve emissions targets.

Consumer concerns about limited range and recharging infrastructure, along with the high price, are likely inhibiting sales of electric-only vehicles. Plug-in hybrid vehicles use battery power and switch to gasoline power – overcoming concerns about range and recharging infrastructure.

Larry Ehl is the founder and publisher of Transportation Issues Daily. In the public sector, Larry was Federal Relations Manager for Washington State DOT; Chief of Staff to US Senator Slade Gorton; and was twice elected to the Edmonds School Board.

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