D.C. Mayor: Tax Breaks for High-MPG Hybrids Only

In Washington D.C., current local tax advantages for buying certain so-called “green cars” may become a thing of the past. Mayor Adrian Fenty proposed stricter guidelines with respect to tax breaks for city residents purchasing hybrid and other fuel efficient vehicles. Under existing law, a D.C. resident who purchases a “new clean fuel or electric vehicle,” regardless of fuel economy numbers, pays no excise tax and half the $72 vehicle registration fee.

The new legislative language eliminates the excise tax exemption for any hybrid vehicle that gets less than 40 miles per gallon in combined driving. The proposed rules indicates a shift to promote high-efficiency, rather than vehicles that simply wear the “hybrid” label.

Casualties of the reform would include hybrid versions of the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu, and Saturn Aura. And not a single hybrid SUV would qualify under the updated law. That includes the Ford Escape Hybrid, with its combined 32 miles per gallon rating. But the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid would make the cut, as those vehicles achieve combined fuel economy of 46 and 42 miles per gallon respectively.

The State of California drew the line at 45 mpg when granting carpool lane access to solo-driving hybrid owners. HOV lane stickers are no longer being granted in California. The Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid, and Honda Insight were the only vehicles that passed the 45 mpg limit, which was established prior to the issuing of new EPA fuel economy numbers in 2007.

Some critics say the proposal removes incentives for consumers to buy slightly more fuel efficient versions of the worst gas-guzzlers. Jim Kliesch, senior engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ clean vehicles program, likes the emphasis on fuel efficiency levels rather than a specific technology. But he sees the 40 mpg line as restrictive. He said, “You’re basically removing most vehicles from the possibility of getting this [incentive].”

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  • BigMcLargeHuge


    I want to see this happen nationally. Incentives should be given to fuel efficient cars, not gas-guzzlers with a HYBRID sticker.

  • Family man

    So if I have a family of 7 I should buy to small cars and take two 40MPG vehicles everywhere we go, or should I get the incentive to buy the one vehicle that gets me 22 MPG? This country is not made up of just “family of four” households. Stop being so close minded.

  • uktiger

    family man, how many 7 member familys are there in the US?

  • Shines

    Welll Family man, I’m not meaning to sound too judgemental but I have these observations: Family of 7 – it would never happen in China these days.
    You could buy 2 Priuses for less than the price of the Tahoe Hybrid shown above. You would have 10 passenger capacity and still get better overall MPG driving both cars at the same time.
    Besides, what is the percentage of the time you have all 7 in the same vehicle? Minivans get almost the same fuel economy and cost $20k less. If you need to haul a boat behind your Tahoe, then you needn’t worry about a $70.00 incentive. As far as driving solo in an HOV lane in the Tahoe?!? You can’t be serious.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Family Man,

    I’m sorry that it is not conducive to saving money that you have a family of 7. You should be appealing for more tax breaks for larger families. That way you could afford to buy whatever you wanted and fuel it.

    But that is no excuse for the government to give tax incentives for people to buy gas guzzlers.

    jim said it right. Many 1-5 member families will be opting for this ‘blingin’ ecological disaster or one of its variations because the green ‘H’ on the side has confused them into thinking it is more environmentally friendly than some other 30-40mpg vehicle that they should be buying.

  • Mike J

    1.2% of US households have 7 people or more in them.

    In my opinion if you want to pay more for a Hybrid car then you should get as many breaks as you can. I think the fastest way out of this mess is to get these huge gas guzzlers to get better gas millage. If a freaking Chevy Tahoe can get 22 MPG than no car/truck sold to consumers should get below 18-20 MPG. If they put this limit in place we would be out of this mess.

  • steved28

    I grew up in a family with 5 kids. We had a station wagon. It was our only car. We did just fine.

    I don’t think SUV’s should be outlawed. But if I had a dime for every time I’ve seen one with one occupant, well, I’d have a lot of dimes.

  • uktiger

    I want a tax on gross vehicle weight. Heavier cars put more stress on roads, take up more real estate in parking lots and cause more damage in accidents.

    People should have to pay for these external economies.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    I don’t think people should need to regulate family size based on fuel economy/hybrid debate.

    But they should not get tax breaks on THIS vehicle. It is only slightly better than some 7-passenger carriers, and slightly worse than others.

    Mercedes GL320CDI for example gets better average mileage. It doesn’t get any tax breaks. Why? Because its not a hybrid.

    And its fuel costs more. If we’re going to be fair, drivers of that vehicle should get a yearly tax break for burning fewer gallons than the TaHybrid.

    The tax breaks should be based on mileage and not on drivetrain type. Now 40 mpg might be a little steep at this point for large vehicles, but I do agree with the mayor that some vehicles don’t deserve the free pass just because they are ‘hybrids.’ Its just a word. It doesn’t mean the vehicle isn’t an ecological disaster.

  • JJSpawn

    Everyone is not going to have a 4.5 member familiy… I do not want to be cramped in a vehicle that my kids are sitting on each other just to go to the mall and everywhere else.

    Is the vehicle going to be used by the whole family every time it goes out… probably not but what vehicle is? Everyone cannot afford to have a family car that is only for family trips, then another one or two for daily commuting.

    Mayor Fenty (DC mayor) has been pissing off a lot people since he has gotten into office. So every decision he makes has been getting some press. I think a better solution would be to keep 40 for cars and maybe 30 for trucks and suv’s… regardless of hybrid label. May still be a bit high for trucks and suv’s but give them something they can get to at least.

  • BigMcLargeHuge


    I don’t disagree with anything you say. If 30 is do-able for trucks and SUV’s, then give them the tax break when they reach that goal.

    And scale it so the vehicle that gets 35 is easier on the taxpayer than the one that gets 30. Give a small tax break for doing 25 if you want, but don’t give anyone the whole tax break for half-progress.

  • Jerry

    Considering the benfits of a Hybrid camry, altima, and escape, I think the 40 MPG limit is ridicules. Certainly these three cars improve air quailty and for stop and go in DC could motor along on e- only for reasonable amount of time. I see no problem not giving the Large SUV tax breaks.

  • moishe k

    Real world calculations should be done in “gallons per day”

    Taxis & Police burn more fuel per day than most us, & use extremely inefficient vehicles, which are then sold to the lowest income group.They should be pushed to adopt the most efficient car, that would have a great impact nationwide

  • MoisheK

    Keep It Simple Stupid

    $1 per Gallon tax to directly subsidize the most fuel efficient vehicle in each category. Just watch the revolution, all other Washington style regulations can go out the window

  • RobertRTx

    TAX THE Gas Guzzeling SUV…. If they can afford an annual $5000 tax let them drive their SUVs… for that matter any vehical sold that gets under 40 should have a progressive tax. Anything over 40 gets a tax credit

    For example mpg >40 give them a $2000 TAX CREDIT
    mpg 30>40 $ 0 tax credit
    mpg 20>30 $1000 tax penility
    mpg 10>20 $2500 tax penility
    mpg <10 $5000 tax penility

  • Jack Streete

    One of the main problems we face now is too many people on the planet. Two or three children per family is enough, but given that you have passed that point, I doubt that more than a few trips a year see all 7 of you packed in your gas guzzler.

  • Chivirico

    High efficiency is the way to go… it sad to see local vehicle manufacturers be so cheap in terms of making cars minimally effective… a hybrid with a 24MPG rating is an insult to all thinking minds. More so to Energy Engineers!!!

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    The problem here isn’t large families. The problem here is the vehicle in question. Its # people carried to gallon burned ratio is terrible in comparison with other hybrids and diesels.

    I’m not opposed to Chevy building a 7-passenger SUV, its just if you’re going to do it, do it right. A vehicle that size should be capable of 25-30mpg.

    How do I know? Because Dodge has an even bigger vehicle that costs less, hauls more and gets better mpg.


    Only downside is its towing capacity. But despite blowing the TaHybrid out of the water on #of people carried per gallon burned, does not get a tax break.

  • BigMcLargeHuge

    Note: the ^^post was not a selling point for everyone to go buy a Sprinter. But it is showing that the TaHybrid is far from its maximum allowable efficiency.

    The sprinter can carry 9 (or 10 in some configurations) at 22mpg average. So lets say 10 at 22. That is roughly the same as 2 Prius’ at 5 at 45. So the Sprinter should be more eligible for tax breaks than the TaHybrid.

    But ideally, the Tahoe should be getting 30 mpg , and still towing 6,000lbs with 7-8 people. If it did, I’d say it was a success.

  • Mike J

    I agree with the $1 tax on every gallon.

    Some of you guys have to get off of your high horse with saying things like people should buy vans and mercedies that get better gas millage. I also share the same opinion about SUV’s with most of you but lets remember THIS IS AMERICA. Americans are pig headed and usualy get what we want! So let us be americans and come out with new inventions and technologys to give us what we want. Every Car and Truck should be able to get over 20 Miles Per gallon or else it can’t be sold in the United States. And if they can’t make a Hummer that gets 20.1 MPG then you can’t sell it. But this Chevy Tahoe is the perfect example that any car or truck no matter how big it is can get over 20 MPG.

    We need to attack this from the bottom up. Switching Prius to lithium or plug in and getting 75-100 MPG doesn’t have the same effect if we can get the Ford F Serries(#1 auto sold in the US) to go from 15 to 25 MPG.

  • Gerald Shields

    40 MPG baby! While it’s regettable that city, county & state goverments have to create a environment of fuel efficient “haves & have nots”, I don’t see much of a choice given the feds refusal to enact tougher CAFE standards.

  • Armand

    We should also add a RETARDED AND STUPIDITY TAX to Hummer, Denali, Escalade, etc drivers….

    These people are the dumbest of the dumb. They should be taxed for it.

  • Don Rowland

    I have always felt that the federal governments tax relief on any vehicle called hybrid was proof of the stupidity of congress. It did nothing to encourage gas savings. It just allowed the big gas guzzlers a reprieve so Detroit would not have to improve gas millage or develop alternative fuel vehicles. Now foreign manufactures are ready to enter the market and our auto companies are falling behind again. We are losing our position as the leading research and development country of the world and becoming a second rate country. We will soon become a major importer and minor exporter. We are becoming a follower, not a leader.

  • Raffy Long

    Incentives should be given to fuel efficient cars but this Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid really Drive me crazy because the ride were really good and very relaxing.

  • Rent Sprinter Vans

    As they come. These bio Gas are efficent if you only maintain the sprinter vans on a monthly basis with the right care.