LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bill disincentivizes hybrid purchase

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s road-funding bill is a tough pill to swallow (“Virginia negotiators reach transportation deal,” Web, Feb. 20). But it’s also a bitter pill for Virginia’s hybrid-vehicle owners.

Some owners of hybrids may suspect that the annual $100 fee is partly an attempt to appease the majority at the expense of a minority. At the least, it’s an ill-conceived idea that defies common sense. There are a couple of reasons why this tax is unfair. First, many hybrid vehicles average less than 30 mpg, and many gas vehicles average more than 30 mpg. Is it fair to tax hybrid-vehicle owners, who pay higher gas taxes, more than many gas-vehicle owners? A fairer, but still unfair option, would have been to tax owners of all vehicles that have mileage ratings above a specified limit.

Second, a hybrid vehicle costs more than its gas-powered equivalent. Car buyers who pay the higher price expect to recoup their investment over the life of the vehicle with lower fuel expenses. Annual fuel savings for most hybrids range between $100 and $200. This tax will reduce or eliminate the biggest incentive to purchase a hybrid vehicle. Therefore, fewer hybrids will be sold and efforts to achieve oil independence will be undermined. I urge area hybrid-vehicle owners to write Gov. McDonnell and ask him to repeal this unfair tax.

HUGH BASKETTE

Norfolk, Va.

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