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A New Jersey senator's plan to drop gas tax and charge all vehicles a per-mile fee has already been scrapped, according to reports.
Instead, Asbury Park Press reports the state is now looking towards a flat fee of $50 for electric vehicles.
The state is one of several exploring ways to account for electric cars not paying any gas tax to contribute to its roads and infrastructure.
Proposed by state Sen. Jim Whelan, New Jersey's plan would have involved dropping the state's gas tax entirely, instead charging all vehicles--electric or otherwise--a per-mile fee to use the state's roads.
A fee of $0.00839 per mile was suggested. For the average car driving 12,000 miles per year, that would work out as $100.68 in tax.
A gasoline vehicle doing 25 mpg would pay $69.60 over the same 12,000 miles, at the state's current rate of 14.5 cents per gallon.
Some news outlets immediately cried foul, noting that an electric vehicle would end up paying more over a year than an inefficient gasoline vehicle--but upon closer inspection of the bill, the mileage fee would apply to all vehicles, meaning electric cars would be charged an identical rate to any other vehicle.
As a result, it's actually one of the fairer systems we've seen for taxing electric vehicles, as it's based solely on usage rather than an arbitrary measurement.
The scheme did have opposition from others, though. Sen. Joe Pennaccio said it would akin to "letting the proverbial camel's nose in the tent. Once you start charging people by the mile... it would be a lot easier to keep rising those costs."
Electric car owners and alternative-fuel vehicle owners may have dodged one bullet with the new $50 fee idea, as it's around half the amount they'd be charged if they drove 12,000 miles under the previous scheme.
But they might be hit by another: A straight $50 fee is equivalent to a gasoline vehicle doing 34.8 mpg over 12,000 miles, so electric car owners would effectively be paying more tax than several gasoline and hybrid vehicles on the road today.
If Whelan's old plan was described as a bad idea by some, the new plan is simply a different sort of bad idea--and one less discriminate of how often (or how little) owners use their vehicles.
Unfortunately, it's also a necessary evil.
Until states charging more for gasoline tax (political suicide, but the root of the problem), or finding other ways to drum up revenue for roads and maintenance, fees for electric cars are here to stay.