Washington state is shifting some of the financial burden of EV subsidies onto hybrid owners, a local report says, effectively punishing shoppers for purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles.
Starting in October, hybrid drivers will be on the hook for an additional $75 in annual vehicle registration fees to help pay for improving Washington's electric vehicle infrastructure. The ultimate goal is place an EV charging station every 40 to 70 miles along major highways. It's a proliferation strategy that mirrors the approach taken by charging networks in Europe—and along I-5 under the earlier West Coast Electric Highway initiative that installed CHAdeMO DC fast-charging hardware.
It's not unusual for states to impose additional registration fees on battery-electric and sometimes even plug-in hybrid vehicles, but adding a registration surcharge for basic hybrid vehicles is an oddity, especially since hybrid drivers don't have the ability to dodge fuel taxes the way BEV (and some times PHEV) drivers do.
As The Seattle Times puts it, these drivers are subsidizing electric stations that they will never use. We might add that it penalizes those who chose more fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles.
In addition to infrastructure improvements, the fees will also help fund tax breaks for middle-incoming plug-in buyers of new vehicles under $45,000 and used ones under $30,000, says the Times. The bill was one of several green initiatives passed by the Washington state legislature aimed at reducing emissions and one of two written explicitly to help incentivize electrified transportation.
The shifting burden of paying for transportation infrastructure maintenance and upgrades will likely remain contentious at both the state and federal level. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has publicly advocated for raising the federal gasoline tax, which has been set at 18.5 cents per gallon since 1993. The Chamber suggested a 25-cent increase, which would be 36 percent above the pace of inflation.
Consumer advocates have also raised concerns over the widespread implementation of what could charitably be called disproportionate registration fees for electric vehicles imposed by states to recoup revenue lost in gas taxes. These "road use" fees sometimes amount to double the average driver's annual outlay in gasoline taxes; in at least one proposal, it's triple the average fuel tax bill.