"Gas taxes pay for the upkeep of our roads, but electric cars don't use gasoline," Jonathan Gitlin writes at Ars Technica.
In the United States, the upkeep of our public roads has traditionally been paid for by the taxes we pay at the fuel pump on gasoline and diesel fuel. As more Americans buy and drive electric vehicles and hybrids that use less gasoline, gas tax revenue continues to drop in relation to the total number of vehicle miles traveled each year.
States like Utah are trying something new: shake down the electric vehicle owners for new money.
Here's more from today's Ars Technica piece, which notes that Oregon has been at it for a while with a similar program:
As a result, some states are starting to grapple with the problem of how to get drivers to pay for the roads they use in cars that use less or even no gas per mile. At the start of this year, Utah has begun a pilot Road Usage Charge program, coupled to an increase in registration fees for alternative fuel vehicles. Assuming a state gas tax of 30c/gallon and 15,542 miles/year driven, Utah says it collects $777 a year from a 6mpg heavy truck, $311 from a pickup getting 15mpg, $187 from a 25mpg sedan, $93 from a 50mpg hybrid, and nothing from anyone driving a battery EV.
So in 2020, Utah is increasing vehicle registration fees. In 2019, registering a BEV in Utah would cost $60; in 2020 that will be $90, increasing to $120 in 2021. PHEV fees were $26 in 2019, increasing to $39 this year and $52 in 2021, and not-plug-in hybrid fees have gone from $10 to $15, increasing to $20 next year. An extra $30 a year—or even $60 a year—is pretty small in the grand scheme of things, particularly considering how much cheaper an EV is to run.
But Utahns with EVs have an alternative. Instead of paying that flat fee, they can enroll in the pilot program that involves fitting a telematics device to the car. The device tracks the actual number of miles driven on Utah's roads. These are billed at a rate of 1.5c/mile, but only until the total equals whatever that year's registration fee for the vehicle would have been; participating in the pilot means you could pay less than you would otherwise, but Utah's Department of Transportation says that participants would not ever be charged more than that year's registration fee. The data will be collected by a contractor called Emovis, which operates toll roads around the US.
"This is just one of the avenues we're investigating for the future because with all the alternative-fuel vehicles, there is going to come a time when the gas tax is not going to be able to fund transportation like it has for the past 100 years," the Utah Department of Transportation told a reporter.
Nothing like good old-fashioned highway robbery in Utah, a long-honored tradition in this great but very corrupt state.
[@drgitlin at Ars Technica]