States around the US are imposing new fees on electric-car owners to make them contribute to state highway maintenance funds.
Some can be quite onerous, such as the $1,000 fee for electric-car registration proposed last week in the Illinois legislature, compared to a $148 fee for other cars.
The discrepancy, at least in other cases is understandable: Most states fill their highway maintenance funds with money from gas taxes—gas that electric car drivers don't buy. And many are falling behind.
According to a 2018 study by the Federal Highway Administration, of the 616,096 bridges across the country, 54 percent are in fair or poor condition, and almost 8 percent rate poor. That doesn't begin to account for all the miles chuckholed concrete and asphalt laid on the ground around the country, especially in Snowbelt states.
Many states, caught between balanced-budget requirements and rising expenses, simply defer road maintenance.
Sierra Club map of states with added fees on electric cars (2018)
The increasing numbers of electric cars that drive on the roads but don't contribute to highway maintenance funds by buying gas are likely accelerating the problem.
Though in most states the numbers are still small, lawmakers don't want to fall further behind and are imposing extra registration or other fees to make up the difference. North Dakota, for example, recently passed a special $110 per year "road use fee" for electric cars.
Then there's that $1,000 Illinois registration fee. Along with the increase, the state proposed to raise its gas tax by 25 cents, to 44 cents a gallon. With an average new car driver, covering 15,000 miles a year in an average 24 mpg new car would pay $274 a year in gas taxes (plus a $148 registration fee in place of the $1,000 fee for EVs.) Something clearly feels out of whack with electric cars potentially paying more than twice as much toward road maintenance as other cars.
Other proposals for making EV drivers pay to keep up the roads have come along the way as well. In addition to registration fees, some have proposed using modern technology to track electric cars' mileage to charge by the mile. Others, perhaps more creatively, have suggested accounting for miles driven by charging electric cars an extra tax on replacement tires. Or, a more obvious but less simple solution could be to charge electric cars for road use the same way gas cars pay: by the juice they use to charge up.
How should EV owners pay for road maintenance?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) May 15, 2019
We'd like to know what you think. Our Twitter poll for this week asks: "How should EV owners pay for road maintenance?"
The options above are our four choices: Registration fees; per-mile fees (which would have to be tracked electronically somehow); taxes on utilities or chargers; and tires.
Click on over to our poll and let us know your preference, particularly if you drive an EV.
Just remember that our Twitter polls are unscientific, because our respondents are self-selected and too few to constitute a scientifically valid sample.
Updated: To correct Illinois' proposed gas tax increase and associated numbers.