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Old 10-25-2019, 07:24 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Old 11-13-2019, 02:39 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I've received responses to one of my WIDOT Open Records Requests about details on the use of IHS Markit's VINtelligence application. That's the proprietary method WIDOT uses to categorize gas-only hybrid-electric vehicles to be subject to the $75 surcharge. It looks like WIDOT gives IHS Markit (or its Polk "subsidiary") $11,500/year for the privilege of hiding the categorization process for this taxation within VINtelligence. So, 150 (gas-only) payers of the surcharge get to contribute their $$ to this opaque company for the privilege of being scr...wed. IHS Markit (Polk) makes a nice sales pitch that their VINtelligence app is used in at least 47 other states, and numerous counties, around the country. So, figure they make between a half and one million bucks telling the government who should be taxed (and, admittedly, who should and should not be allowed in HOV lanes that allow "inherently low emission vehicles" - ILEVs). And, of course, the government doesn't need to have any idea about how IHS Markit comes up with their categorizations.

Wisconsin did a sole source purchase of VINtelligence, so IHS Markit did a good job convincing WIDOT that they were the opaque product of choice to get them the $7M revenue stream they promised. Of course, WIDOT could have done this in-house using a free VIN decoder base, like NHTSA's decoder. But then the process would need to be properly vetted and open to scrutiny by folks like me, ...you know... the public, subject to arbitrary application of surcharges/taxation.

For G1 Insight owners, I still recommend contesting the fee based on a technical comparison with a vehicle not subject to the fee (Malibu Eco) as posted earlier. As a challenge to the technical implementation of the surcharge, there is at least a possibility to force a correction internal to WIDOT and the VINtelligence app, or at least to see what justification flows from IHS Markit back to WIDOT (if the Open Records Request is honored).

For Prius owners, for now you could contest the fee based on equal protection as posted over on the Prius Chat site. Unfortunately, this is not a challenge to the technical implementation of the surcharge like the direct comparison above. That means it is more likely subject to litigation than to a correction internal to WIDOT and the VINtelligence app.

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Old 11-14-2019, 07:04 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I sent in my MV1020 about a month ago and have yet to hear anything at all. I have a 2003 civic hybrid. I will check in if I hear back.
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Old 11-15-2019, 05:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Great news on your challenge with the Civic Hybrid...WIDOT is really obligated to provide some type of response. If they end up stonewalling, I can try another open records request, or give you some pointers on how you could do it. Formal open records requests require certain timely responses that might be more likely to get attention.

The Civic is even a better case, though I hadn't focused on it. It has the basic specs of a G1 Insight but doesn't get the MPG of the most efficient Insights. That makes it an even better challenge to justifying the surcharge against the Malibu Eco.

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Old 11-15-2019, 07:46 PM   #25 (permalink)
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If you are interested in challenging with a G1 Civic Hybrid the same way that it would be done for a G1 Insight, here's a way to write it:

Please correct my vehicle registration to remove the hybrid-electric vehicle registration fee of $75. This XXXX (year) Honda Civic Hybrid is a mild-hybrid vehicle equivalent to a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco that is exempt from the $75 fee. This XXXX Honda Civic Hybrid is, therefore, also exempt from the $75 fee based on these comparative specifications taken from descriptions of the two vehicles:

Malibu Eco: 15-kW motor-generator
Honda G1 Civic Hybrid: The electric motor on the G1 Civic Hybrid is rated at 10 kilowatts
Malibu Eco: Electric motor cannot power the car by itself
Honda G1 Civic Hybrid: Electric motor cannot power the car by itself; the gas engine must be running for the car to move
Malibu Eco : Lithium-ion battery provides electrical boost in various driving scenarios
Honda G1 Civic Hybrid: Electric Motor assists gasoline engine for extra power while the car is accelerating or climbing a hill
Malibu Eco: Automatic (electric motor) smooth engine start-stop functionality
Honda G1 Civic Hybrid: Electric Motor Starts the engine
Malibu Eco: Regenerative braking, which provides up to 15 kW of electricity to charge the battery
Honda G1 Civic Hybrid: Motor acts as a generator and recharges the batteries using a process called regenerative braking
Malibu Eco: 0.5 kWh, 115V lithium-ion battery
Honda G1 Civic Hybrid: 0.9 kWh, 144V NiMH battery
Malibu Eco: 2.4L Ecotec direct-injection four-cylinder engine rated at an estimated 180 hp
Honda G1 Civic Hybrid: 1.3-liter, four-cylinder that produces 85 horsepower
Malibu Eco: Weighs about 3700lb
Honda G1 Civic Hybrid: The G1 Civic Hybrid weighs about 2700 pounds

The primary difference between these two vehicles is the curb weight and the size of the gasoline engine. These distinctions are not relevant to the hybrid classification.

As part of this correction request, I am also submitting the following open record request here and directly to the WI DOT open records custodian:

Dear WI DOT Records Custodian:

Under the Wisconsin Open Records Law, §19.31 - 19.39., I request documents in the form of correspondence with IHS Markit involving my citizen request through this (the) MV1020 "TITLE/REGISTRATION CORRECTION REQUEST" form (I have submitted) for correction of the categorization of my vehicle, VIN #xxxxxxxxxxx, as it relates to the hybrid-electric vehicle surcharge. Records would include WI DOT requests to IHS Markit for clarification of categorization of hybrid-electric vehicles, and responses, both general and detailed, from IHS Markit on acceptance or rejection of the correction, and, in the case of rejection, specific justifications from IHS Markit as to the reason for rejection.

I expect this information can be provided electronically and I request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of which vehicles are subject to the hybrid electric vehicle fee. This information is not being sought for commercial purposes.

I would request a response in writing, within the 5 days described by law, if you intend to deny this request. Also, if you expect a significant delay in fulfilling this request, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Thank you for considering my request.


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