Open letter to the members of the Washington State EV Caucus


As a member of the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association, I heard about a request from John McCoy, Legislative Director for SEVA, asking people to write to our Washington State legislators to thank them for recently creating an EV Caucus to “support the advancement of low-polluting, electric cars.”

As an electric motorcycle enthusiast, this immediately prompted me to deviate from the form letter that Mr. McCoy provided to stress that electric motorcycles are EVs, too!  Below you’ll find the result.





Thank you for making history by joining the first-ever Electric Vehicle (EV) Caucus — but don’t forget that electric motorcycles are EVs, too!



Dear Esteemed Senators and Representatives;

Thank you for your historic decision to form an EV caucus in Washington State.  I hope that your work helps encourage the public to replace gasoline vehicles with electric vehicles, and sets a good example for other state legislatures and the nation as a whole to do the same to reduce air pollution and our dependence upon oil from any source.

As both an electric car driver and electric motorcycle rider, I bear my fair share of financial responsibility by paying the same $100 road maintenance use tax per vehicle (RCW 46.17.323) to replace the equivalent tax on gasoline prices at the pump, but I do not see similarly equal sales tax relief from RCW 82.08.809 because a motorcycle is not included in the wording “passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles.”

What is it about alternative fuel motorcycles that does not merit the same incentives?  What merits to motorcycles need to offer to meet or exceed that of “passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles”?

I would like to convince you of the merit of including electric motorcycles among the alternative fuel vehicles that you discuss by pointing out the following advantages that they offer not only over gasoline vehicles, but all “passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles”:

  • Electric motorcycles consume less than half of the electricity to travel the same distance as an electric car.  I have measured this with my electric car and my electric motorcycle along exactly the same commute.
  • Electric motorcycles consume less than one-third of the space to park an electric car.  I have seen as many as four motorcycles fit in one compact parking space.  Even one carelessly parked “passenger car, light duty truck, or medium duty passenger vehicle” can make the two parking spaces next to it unusable.
  • Motorcycles of any kind are allowed to travel in HOV lanes, allowing commuters to get to work more quickly.
  • Because much traffic congestion is caused by single-occupancy “passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles”, motorcycles (and future electric vehicles such as the half-width two-wheeled car being developed by California startup Lit Motors) offer commuters a way to downsize their vehicle to match the number of occupants.
  • Assuming that air pollution, traffic congestion, and limited parking are serious problems facing–and caused by–commuters driving to and from work in single-occupancy gasoline-powered “passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles”, incentivizing commuters to replace their gasoline vehicles with electric cars only mitigates the pollution problem.  Adding electric motorcycles to commuters’ choices of alternative fuel vehicles gives them the flexibility to choose a vehicle that might not only fit their lifestyle and commuting needs better, but mitigates all three problems.
  • In all other ways, motorcycles and their riders are subject to the same traffic laws that other vehicles and their drivers are, so why treat them differently with regard to taxes and incentives?

Does this not suggest that alternative fuel motorcycles should no longer be excluded from the definition of the word “vehicle”?  That electric motorcycles are EVs just as much as electric cars are?

This session, I look forward to your support of key EV initiatives, which include:

  1. Extending the sales tax exemption for green alternative fuel vehicles past July,
  2. Extending the definition of “green alternative fuel vehicle” to include green alternative fuel motorcycles,
  3. Supporting additional highway fast charging infrastructure to finish the West Coast Green Highway on I-5 and extend this benefit to the state’s other highway corridors, and
  4. Updating building and electrical codes to make future buildings EV ready.

In addition to your efforts to include motorcycles among the classes of vehicles you’re discussing,  I would also be very interested in your ideas for getting the state’s electric utilities more involved in supporting transportation, and extending home charging to existing multifamily buildings as well.

Thank you for taking this historic step, and I hope to see legislation pass in the 2015 session that is designed to encourage rapid EV adoption.


Michael Johnson

Duvall, WA 98019

Electric car lessee: Nissan LEAF, manufactured in Tennessee

Electric motorcycle owner: Brammo Empulse R, manufactured in Oregon

Electric scooter owner: Current Motor Super Scooter, manufactured in Michigan

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4 Responses to Open letter to the members of the Washington State EV Caucus

  1. Tony says:

    That was a very well thought out letter. I really like the mention about motorcycles. If you would like to include road approved scooters and mopeds, that would be the only thing I would change. I don’t know if your Current is considered a moped or a motorcycle in Washington State or not. As always, I enjoy hearing about other people pushing for the advancement of electric 2 wheel transportation. Keep up the fight and good luck with your rides!!

    Tony Stevens

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Tony. If you are a Washington State resident, I would encourage you to write to the members of the EV Caucus with your views about scooters and mopeds. The Current vehicle is called a scooter due to its shape (see, but it is highway capable. I have taken it on a local highway up to just over 60 mph going downhill and 55 mph going up the same hill.

      On the other hand, if you are not a Washington State resident, then may I suggest that you consider writing to your state representatives to ask them to keep an eye out for the Washington State EV Caucus and consider taking similar steps to support the rEVolution?


  2. Alex Kollitz says:

    Michael Johnson,

    Well written letter, thanks for taking the time to send it.

    As of late I have been thinking of the various changes that are taking place for transportation. One of the issues that should be on peoples mind now is to restructure the definitions of vehicles and accommodate the increasing number of commuter vehicles which don’t fit current definitions. I call these the crossover vehicles. Tadpole design three wheeled vehicles, not quite cars, not quite motorcycles. High powered electric bikes, upscale trikes (bike based but much more robust and capable of higher speeds with electric drivetrains) and electric quad bikes.

    These are all good for transportation, but are hard to classify and are difficult and dangerous to mix with the existing ICE paradigm. We need to put together a comprehensive long term transition plan to accommodate these new and more beneficial/sustainable designs. It took awhile to get bike lanes put in and there is a big gap of vehicles between bikes and semis that really shouldn’t mix. Transportation needs to be rethought.

    I am not in Washington, but the much warmer and dryer state of Arizona. I will be moving to Oregon and will be entering the EV manufacturing industry there. My focus will be on recreational EV’s. If you thought electric motorcycles were being left out, how about electric dirt bikes, ATV’s and SxS’s? The ICE motors in these vehicles have very little to no exhaust requirements and as a result are extremely dirty to operate. The environmental benefit to convert these recreational vehicles to electric is tremendous in addition to the reduction of noise pollution in natural areas where these vehicles are frequently found.

    Interesting letter on California’s experience with motorcycles.

    All the best!

    Alex Kollitz

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Alex,

    thank you very much for your comment, and for drawing my attention to the pollution difference between ICE cars and ICE motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs and SxSs. I do not ride off-road, so I’m not familiar with those vehicle types or how many of them are in use relative to street-legal vehicles.

    Near the end of the article, note that “[m]otorcycles account for such a small portion of vehicle miles traveled” and “[i]f you want to make a difference, consider an electric two-wheeler for your next bike”. What I take this to mean is that (1) prioritizing the replacement of “passenger cars, light duty trucks, and medium duty passenger vehicles” with EVs will yield a reduction in the lion’s share of pollution more than replacing dirt bikes, ATVs and SxSs with EVs, and (2) those readers who have already proactively contacted the LA Times for advice have already been recommended to seek out alternative fuel vehicles.

    In other words, I assume that prioritizing the cleanup of on-road vehicles will reduce pollution more than cleaning up off-road vehicles. If you can share data that shows that all off-road vehicle use generates as much or more pollution each day than on-road vehicles do, then by all means, let’s bring that to the attention of our lawmakers.



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