By on February 14, 2018

Here at TTAC, we sometimes tap sister publications when a story arouses our interest. This piece, published by Hybrid Cars, details a battle brewing in the rustic state of Maine — one that pits hybrid and electric car owners against a government that says their cars, while good for the environment, aren’t good for road upkeep. As cars become greener and gas tax revenues dwindle, this won’t be the last battle.

A proposed new fee for hybrids and EVs in Maine could be the highest in the country, reducing clean vehicle adoption.

The Maine Department of Transportation wants to add an annual registration fee for hybrids and electric vehicles. $150 for hybrids, and $250 for electric models. The DOT is looking to impose the fee because it says drivers of the more energy efficient vehicles aren’t paying their fair share toward road maintenance.

“The owners of these types of vehicles are paying far less in the gas tax than other vehicle owners and they are using the highway system just like any others,” MDOT Manager of Legislated Services Megan Russo told the Portland Press-Herald. “There has got to be a way to try and capture revenue from those drivers who are using our road system.”

Despite a 30-cent tax per gallon of gas, Maine’s highway maintenance is underfunded by $60 million per year. Officials know this new fee won’t solve the problem, but it will help.

“We think drivers should be paying some sort of fee, let’s talk about what amount would be appropriate,” Russo said.

Hybrid and electric vehicles make up less than 3 percent of the vehicles on Maine roads. There are about 19,450 in the state, according to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. That means the proposed fees would raise approximately $2.9 million per year toward the road maintenance budget.

Maine wouldn’t be the first state to put a fee on electrified cars. Eighteen other states have registration fees ranging from $30 to $100 for hybrids and $50 to $200 for electrics.

Owners and conservation groups are not happy with the proposed fees, saying they are being targeted by the legislation.

“I feel like I am being punished if this bill goes through because I am doing the right thing,” Gretchen Ebbesson-Keegan, a retired teacher, told the Press-Herald.

Ebbesson-Keegan drives a nine-year-old Toyota Prius.

The Sierra Club Maine has called the fees unreasonable and punitive toward electrified vehicle owners.

“Gas-burning vehicles are a major source of toxic air pollution and the largest source of carbon pollution in Maine,” said Sierra Club Maine Transportation Team Chair Tony Donovan last year. “Levying a tax on cleaner cars is counter-productive to the state’s interest in reducing car pollution. One state that imposed high fees on EVs, for example, learned this the hard way.”

Donovan was referring specifically to Georgia. That state moved from one of the highest EV incentives in the country to a $200 per year EV fee, and subsequently saw EV sales drop by 80 percent.

The new fees would see the owner of a hybrid or electric vehicle paying more for road use than most ICE vehicle drivers. At $250 per year, an EV would pay about the same in fees as the driver of a vehicle that gets just 18 miles per gallon over 15,000 miles.

The LePage administration in Maine has floated other legislation to help pay for road maintenance. A bill was proposed that would redirect some of the sales tax on car and car part purchases to the highway fund, but it is unlikely to pass due to overall budget concerns. But don’t expect a gas tax increase to make sure drivers of more efficient conventional cars pay their share.

“This administration has been very clear, they are opposed to a gas tax increase,” Russo said.

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79 Comments on “Nice Prius – Now Pay Up: Maine to Green Car Owners...”


  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I love it! Finally, parity.

    I hope all 50 states adopt the ” Nice EV/Hybrid – Now Pay Up” mandate.

    LOL! Let’s give these gas-tax evaders a dose of road-maintenance cost reality.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      So shouldn’t buyers of ANY fuel-efficient car pay more under this scheme, such as those with 40 mpg Focuses?

      Seems the fairest way would be to tax by miles driven — have odometers read once per year, easy enough in states that have safety or emissions inspections.

      Also, a sliding scale based on curb weight could be imposed. Some states already charge more for passenger vehicles over a certain weight.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Don’t misunderstand my position. I firmly believe that EVs, PEVs and Hybrids SHOULD be available to anyone who wants to buy/lease one.

        But without the special incentives like the $7500 tax subsidy for the rich, and free roadside charging or the special tt&l rates in many cases, etc.

        By evading paying the gas tax at the pump, paying lower annual registration fees than those of gas/diesel ICE vehicles, these EV, PEV and Hybrid owners were given special treatment. Not fair!

        THIS is where the State of CA could make a killing on all those gas-tax evaders running around loose on CA roads in their EVs, PEVs and Hybrids.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yeah there are Hybrids that get worse MPG than some cars, so taxing them just because they are Hybrids is just a money grab from people who they think have the money to pay it. For example our old Escape Hybrid only got ~28 mpg in daily driving which is quite good for a 4×4 but still less than many cars.

        • 0 avatar
          mik101

          Here’s the counter point of view for you.
          Why should you pay less for road repairs when your hybrid takes up the same amount of space on the road and does the same amount of damage to it as a non-hybrid Escape? It may not be exactly perfect, but if the mileage wasn’t good enough to offset the difference in gas taxes then that is not your governments fault. That would be either your mistake buying a hybrid that isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, or something you should take up with Ford because there was more pollution created building your hybrid than a non-hybrid Escape too.;)

          Edit — your hybrid is heavier too so it does more damage to the infrastructure. Think about it

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ 210delray – Prior to hybrids, there was a rough correlation between weight and fuel efficiency, and a corresponding negative correlation with wear and tear inflicted on roads. Hybrids present an exception to that in that they’re heavier but also more fuel efficient. It looks like, for example, that a Prius C weighs about 200 lbs more than a Yaris and that a RAV4 hybrid weights about 300-500 lbs more than a non-hybrids. (I presume the FWD non-hybrid is the lightweight.)

        The sliding scale proposal you make would address the hybrid paradox.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This entire society is a nothing but a pyramid scheme of thievery and deceit.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “This” society?

        People have been deceiving, and stealing stuff from, each other since there were people. There was no Golden Age.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I don’t know enough about anthropology to argue anything other than this society.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          There has always been/will always be individuals who try their luck at theft. As those are in a minority (by definition, since you otherwise wouldn’t even have a society), it’s little more than annoying background noise that can be dealt with.

          Things are a lot worse, when crass theft and graft is society’s sole official policy.

          Where government is properly limited (including militarily), and the population properly armed, the latter disaster is avoidable, even if the background noise still remains.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    It’s kinda ironic, the pious are being told “You didn’t build that!”.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I suppose this means a tax refund for those driving gas-guzzling V8 muscle cars that are paying more than their fair share of road maintenance costs.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    So where is my credit for driving trucks that get 12 and 15 mpg?????

    • 0 avatar
      Sub-600

      Credit? I’ve got a fat check coming then, my 5.7 liter Hemi gets 15 mpg if I have a tail wind. Virtue taxing is a good idea, I’d get better mileage with smooth roads.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Despite a 30-cent tax per gallon of gas, Maine’s highway maintenance is underfunded by $60 million per year. Officials know this new fee won’t solve the problem, but it will help them continue to fund other pet projects and line their own pockets instead of paying for road infrastructure.

    There, fixed it for you.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      What’s the full BEV tax going to bring in for them – maybe $50k at most?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        MAYOR QUIMBY: Aw, just what I need to tip the skycaps.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Don’t forget that ICE vehicles have to be smog-tested periodically and EVs/PEVs and Hybrids do not. Another loss of revenue for the smog station AND the state.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @HDC: Don’t forget that ICE vehicles have to be smog-tested periodically and EVs/PEVs and Hybrids do not.

          That’s untrue. I still have to have my EVs inspected annually and I pay the same as an ICE vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mcs, maybe that differs from state to state. I have several old codgers in my church who own a Prius and NONE of them ever had to be smogged or inspected at re-registration time.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            So where do they put the sniffer when testing it’s emissions??

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I think mcs is referring to the Prius, not a Leaf or Mitsu.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @MCS – don’t you live in Maine?? The only “emissions testing” in Maine is that the CEL can’t be lit and if your gas cap happens to fit the state approved tester, a gas cap pressure test. And even that is only in two out of sixteen counties (the populated ones).

            Maine just has an annual safety inspection that applies to most vehicles regardless of how they are powered.

            As for the money issue, they should just jack the tolls higher on the Maine Turnpike and let all the tourists pay it. Let the locals have deeply discounted EZ-Pass accounts.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          In my state Prius are the only Hybrids that are exempt from emissions testing. Of course because some legislator got a bill passed so he or she didn’t have to have their car tested.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @HDC: I think mcs is referring to the Prius, not a Leaf or Mitsu.

            No, the Leaf. Same for Tesla. You have to pull it up right next to the emissions test machine. I pull in, the inspector looks at the tires and the wipers, then writes up the bill for $35.00.
            Takes him more work to write up the bill than to inspect the car.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mcs, I had no idea that is even lawful since neither tires nor wipers fall under emissions testing outlined by the EPA (in most states that is).

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        What does $50K buy in the way of hookers and blow in Maine. The only currency that matters, in matters of official graft.

    • 0 avatar
      Hoon Goon

      The rarely spoken truth.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    This, to me, is the right thing to do. Not a “fair” thing as the definition of “fair” depends upon which side of an issue one is on. Use the roads, pay for upkeep of the roads – has nothing to do with what is being driven or emissions, whether a smoke-spewing “Brodozer” or a clean-as-a-whistle “clean” Nissan Leaf. I believe that someone commenting here a while back wanted bicyclists to pay something to maintain bike lanes and the associated costs of construction/maintenance and this should also be included. All this being said, the taxes collected must be impounded for use as advertised – highway/road maintenance and construction and not just another “pop ‘er into the General Fund” exercise.

  • avatar
    1500cc

    So one part of the government gives tax incentives for buying EVs, then a different part taxes it back. Brilliant.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Who knew that empowering politicians to create a social and environmental Utopia could ever backfire like this?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      they could do this – tax only non-hybrid owners for not owing alternate vehicle. Would work even better for budget

    • 0 avatar
      285exp

      Just because one part of the government gives you tax incentives to buy it doesn’t mean another part of the government shouldn’t tax you to operate it.
      If their goal is to incent everyone into electric vehicles, they’re going to have to find some way other than a pay-as-you-go fuel tax to fund highway construction and maintenance, they can’t be free riders on the fossil fuel drivers forever, and even ICE drivers will have to pony up some more as the fuel economy increases and fuel tax revenues decrease.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “fair share”

    Was this before or after you p!ssed away your tax monies on something other than road maintenance?

  • avatar
    don1967

    Not every hybrid owner is a sanctimonious jerk who calls on Big Government to tax and regulate other people’s lives. But to those who are, perhaps now is the appropriate time to say BWAHAHAHAHA!

    This is so good it must be fattening.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Paul LePage is a mouth-breathing moron, film at 11.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      Yeah, put him in your basket of deplorables. That always works.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Here’s a good example (actually, several) of LePage’s intellectual capacity:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/26/this-is-gov-paul-richard-lepage-i-would-like-to-talk-to-you-about-your-comments-about-my-being-a-racist-you-expletive/

        • 0 avatar
          brettc

          He’s quite the winner. I’m sure Donny two scoops has a meaningless job waiting for him in Washington. Us Maine residents are eagerly waiting for him to vacate the Blaine House.

          Of course this happens days after I finally buy a C-Max. Increasing the gas tax is one way to fix this.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    The “how do we pay for roads” argument needs to be expanded to why do we have to pay so much. Road technology has not changed in 80 years. Why – because government monopoly has no incentive to invent new materials/processes, etc. and government DOT unions want to keep repaving roads non-stop.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I have a friend who builds very high-tech machinery for testing asphalt compositions for roads. The fact that roads pretty much look like they did 80 years ago doesn’t mean technology hasn’t changed. Most of the roads where I live are built by private contractors, who submit bids to the government. It’s not a monopoly.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I’m not sure you statement is 100% accurate. As I understand it, their has been a fair amount of research done with the composition of asphalt. Specifically using recycled tires and glass and I am sure other materials.

      As noted, major road/highway projects are handled by large firms that bid the work out. Where I live the municipality will patch roads, do the tar and gravel bit. But major R&R is handled by private firms.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      Road composition may not have changed drastically in 80 years, but it has changed some, but the bigger problem is the amount of cars that travels on said roads has increased drastically.

  • avatar
    bogardus

    Great thinking. Perhaps municipalities with budget shortfalls should start charging fees to residents who don’t get any traffic or parking tickets. Gotta show those people you can’t cheat the system just by driving “legally.” Those surplus APCs the sheriff ordered ain’t gonna pay for themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      The APCs are supposed to be free, as part of the Redistribution of Excess Military equipment to municipalities that qualify.

      Like M-16s, Grenade Launchers, Flash/Bang Grenades, old Fire Trucks as Water Cannons, Bomb Disposal Trucks, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Military hardware in municipal police hands, what can go wrong?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Some cops were grateful they had it. Saved their lives.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            SWAT has access to such things, but at no point in modern history which I can recall had a muni police officer been able to use front line military equipment against the populace if need be.

            Reading between the lines, they’re planning ahead for potential unrest at some point in the future.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28CL, at no point in modern history have muni police officers ever been faced with the current populace where only Black Livers Matter…. (pun intended)

            The unrest is already here, in case you missed it. More people arming themselves, more armed good guys intervening against bad guys. Long overdue!

            With the current administration’s full support of Law Enforcement, we can all look forward to more and stricter law enforcement where cops will shoot first and sift out the finer details later.

            It’s either that or more cops getting assassinated by the criminal element in this society.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            I think it has less to do with unrest, and more to do with lobbying. The Army keeps saying they don’t want more tanks, the factory keeps calling their congressmen who force the Army to buy more tanks to keep people working. The old ones have to go somewhere.

            Tanks, at least, can be sold off to foreign governments. And when those governments collapse, the insurgents won’t have the resources to keep them going. Assault rifles are a much different story, and those get turned against our troops when we intervene. So we keep them here.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @hdc

            I do agree and if the Feds really cared to change this they would use their resources to cut off the cash flow from terrorist organizations and their agencies to infiltrate and arrest leadership guilty of crimes – as they did La Cosa Nostra. The fact they do not speaks volumes, and LCN was a far more formidable opponent. Policy is not made in a vacuum. This is all intentional, hardware is being spread out and prepped.

            @TMA1

            I see what you’re saying, but the broken window effect can be used elsewhere. Remember all the cool hardware the Iraqi army “ran away” from in 2014 when ISIS first took Mosul? Uh huh. Just like the brand new Hilux pickups which magically appeared for the rag tag from the roots up terrorist organization which appeared out of nowhere? Uh huh.

            Abrams can be “captured” by the enemy or made to be disappeared easily enough to justify more MIC spending. I still argue spreading out armaments is in preparation for unrest. Municipal police already have ARs as optional duty weapons (you can apparently sign it or a shotgun out for the trunk of the squad car). What they do not have outside of perhaps SWAT is mobile armored vehicles. One or two of those could be easily used to hold a position from a large group of lightly armed hungry or angry citizens. Police are already spread thin in many places, but what if only four could secure a critical location in an emergency scenario?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            28CL, if you had a chance to tune in to any of the news network today to follow the mass shooting at that HS in Florida, you would have seen several of those converted combat vehicles scattered throughout the landscape near and around that HS.

            You may very well be right in your analysis, but the legally-armed citizenry in America far outnumber any and all “gub’ment” law enforcement personnel.

            The armed crooks and criminals are probably even more numerous in ratio to both, especially in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Tragic, I’ll wait for things to unfold before passing judgment.

            Agreed but in a true disaster scenario (nuclear decapitation strike, Yellowstone eruption, Fukushima collapse etc) the intention might only be to maintain order or hold positions long enough to evacuate upper echelon personnel. After which I imagine a scenario filled with armed groups carving up territories and seizing what’s left.

            “legally-armed citizenry in America far outnumber any and all “gub’ment” law enforcement personnel.”

            On a low level basis, I agree. But if and when the real firepower is brought to bear, the citizens are toast.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I don’t understand, why only car owners pay for road upkeep? What, non-car-owners don’t get mail, furniture, appliance, food, etc delivery; or they don’t ride a bus that takes them places? Build this expense into state tax and be done with it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      This is already effectively what is happening.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        28 Cars,
        I mean, make state tax the only place for money for the roads. So, they can’t build road taxes into local taxes, gas taxes, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I can’t speak for your locale, but here when the local municipality is insolvent without issuing bonds (so, most of them) they call on the county and state to bail them out. Outside of the road issue, the US could save a great deal of money by either eliminating county governments or municipal governments. Duplicated effort is a huge cost.

          I’m not sure what the legal stipulations are for “gas tax monies” but my guess is they disappear into a general fund. Even if monies were earmarked, in this neck of the woods it would never be enough. I once read the going rate per mile of asphalt road was $1,000,000. Where is gov’t on this? Their own expenditures could be cut if they broke this cost down and eliminated graft and other waste. Did you know cops get time and a half to sit on the road in a marked car and sleep “guarding” the worksites? Funny that.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Where I live cops rarely guarding work sites. But in MA laws are such that cops have to guard everything, including potholes. But then I see – its either empty cruiser or cop is sleeping in it, as you suggest.

            Your idea to eliminate governments is great. Lets start with federal.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I love the idea but they will use everything in their arsenal to prevent that from happening, better a local restructuring which is more feasible.

            The Bonus army was probably the last chance for the nation’s freedom, but those people simply wanted paid because they were starving from the Fed induced depression, not revolt. Once the sociopaths had the bomb it was game over.

            “On July 28, U.S. Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the veterans removed from all government property. Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two veterans were wounded and later died. President Herbert Hoover then ordered the Army to clear the veterans’ campsite. Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur commanded the infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks. The Bonus Army marchers with their wives and children were driven out, and their shelters and belongings burned.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army

            “Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You’re right, we did it. We’re very sorry. But thanks to you, we won’t do it again.”

            federalreserve.gov/BOARDDOCS/SPEECHES/2002/20021108/

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Current soldiers should note how they will be treated once they become veterans

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Municipal land taxes pay for a lot of road upkeep. Non-car owners pay that if they own a home or pay rent. The cost of fuel excise taxes is also built into the cost of goods delivered by trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I don’t know where you live but State Tax, County Tax, Local Tax, Sales Tax and Property Tax for homeowners, landlords, property owners like farmers, ranchers and businesses add up to a lot of money every year in MY state.

      OTOH, when people from the East Coast, West Coast and other High Tax States move to my neck of the woods, they are elated at how little in taxes they have to pay in NM.

      My guess is that taxation is ginormous in NY, NY, CT, MA, VA et all.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      Correct. Economic benefit is spread much wider than just drivers. Plus, fuel excise tax creates a perverse situation where governments are actively pushing against fuel efficiency. This problem is particularly acute when excise tax is administered like a sumptuary tax.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    Damage to roads from vehicle travel goes with the cube of axle weight and linearly with the number of axles.

    If you want to charge a fair share of the road maintenance costs, then base the registration fee off of that – some tiny amount of money x axle_weight^3 x n_axles .

    The disadvantage is that 5-axle 40-ton vehicles will pay a lot more than 2-axle 1-ton vehicles under that system and that motorcycles will have to be more or less free.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      To elaborate on this, heavy trucks and buses are vastly heavier than cars, they have stiffer suspension and far higher tire pressure. These factors combine to absolutely pound roads compared to cars. Heavy commercial vehicles pay some sort taxes to use the roads, but nothing like the amount they should be paying. In some cases the may be exempt from taxes on gas itself.

      To some extent heavy personal vehicles such as motorhomes and pickups fall between heavy commercial vehicles and private cars in terms of damage to roads and taxation.

      In Canada most roads within municipalities are paid for out of general revenue. Which is mostly property taxes. Everyone pays property taxes already, directly or indirectly.

      These taxes on efficient cars will backfire spectacularly. The damaging effect on reducing carbon emissions will have disastrous financial consequences. The taxes would make some sense if there was also a carbon tax.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Then, the easiest solution would be to tax tires only:
      tire max load ^3 x tire spec mileage x adjusting constant

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Joe Biden says it is patriotic to pay taxes. Obama said he liked to spread the wealth around. I’m guessing that about 80+% of EV and hybrid owners voted for the Obama-Biden ticket so this should be exactly what they want – a chance to be patriotic and spread their wealth around. Oh wait – you meant to say that someone else should be patriotic and spread their wealth around?

  • avatar
    TW5

    Message to humanity:

    Please stop using fuel excise tax to fund road construction and maintenance. Failure to comply will lead to more unnecessary conflict.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Ah, the law of unintended consequences. Something our do-gooder overlords never seem to contemplate.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Said fee needs to be dependent on actual miles driven, not an arbitrary amount that may or may not be compatible with the actual use of the vehicle.

  • avatar

    Oh look, a woman with a hyphenated last name is talking about her feelings.


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