Illinois EV Owners Face Steep New Fee, Rage Against the Machine

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
illinois ev owners face steep new fee rage against the machine

Like most states, Illinois hasn’t raised its gas tax in years, keeping it at 19 cents since the musically gifted year of 1990, and, like most states, Illinois needs cash for pressing infrastructure repairs. Illinois’ state gas tax joins a slew of other taxes, including income tax, that’s bundled into local pump prices, but one type of driver was able laugh at all the chumps lining up for dino juice.

The electric vehicle driver.

By virtue of their emissions-free powerplant, EV drivers side-step this area of taxation. Unfortunately for the Tesla owners of Cook County and other jurisdictions, those days may soon come to an end. A proposed law would see EV owners dinged $1,000 a year — their contribution to maintaining the roads and bridges their hefty EVs ply on a daily basis. As you’d expect, many are not happy.

Neither are conventional vehicle owners, however, as the proposal would more than double the state’s gas tax.

The proposal, an amendment to House Bill 391, passed the Illinois House Revenue & Finance Committee on May 9th and is currently making its way through the General Assembly. Proposed by Democratic Sen. Martin Sandoval of Chicago, the updated law would reportedly add some $2.4 billion a year to state coffers.

Driving (and just owning) a car in Illinois would become significantly more costly under the proposed law, especially for EV drivers. Right now, EV owners pay a $35 registration fee every two years; under the updated legislation, they would face an annual $1,000 registration fee. The thinking being that EVs don’t hover above the road, never touching its delicate surface with nasty rubber tires and road-hugging weight. Do your part, the proposal essentially states.

The proposal would also hike the state gas tax from 19 cents to 44 cents, with annual license plate registration fees rising from $98 to $148. If passed by the House and Senate, the new taxes and fees would come into effect on July 1st.

Selling EVs to Americans remains a tough job. The Chicago Tribune reports that, as of April, some 15,000 EVs were registered in the state, with Illinois ranking seventh in EV sales last year. One incentive for owning an EV was being able to avoid the raft of federal, state, and local taxes at the pump.

“Certainly, going from $17.50 to $1,000 in terms of registration, isn’t going to move the needle in the direction the industry is hoping,” Jeremy Acevedo, an analyst with Edmunds, told the newspaper.

The backlash from EV owners, advocates, and builders was immediate.

“The proposed fee increase is way too high,” said Citizen’s Utility Board spokesman Jim Chilsen. “It’s punitive, it’s unfair and it goes against Illinois’ transportation trends and needs.”

Tesla has spoken out against the fee hike, while electric upstart Rivian, which owns a former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois, called the proposal “unfair.”

“Imposing fees on EVs that are over 400 percent more than their gasoline-powered counterparts is not only unfair, it discourages promising new technology that will reduce our dependence on petroleum, reduce emissions, and promote the Illinois economy,” said Rivian spokesman Michael McHale

Tesla Model S owner Nicoletta Skarlatos called the proposal “outrageous.” The Chicago resident complained to the Tribune, “I thought Illinois was progressive and would want to encourage EV ownership.”

It could be argued that, with road and other transportation infrastructure projects in need of funding, Illinois residents and Chicagoans would have faced boosted taxation elsewhere, rather than at the pumps or DMV. When a government wants to get its hands on your wallet, it has no shortage of ways of sliding that slick palm into your jeans.

Of course, those opposed to the proposal could do what annoyed citizens have done for all eternity: sign a useless petition.

[Image: Tesla]

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3 of 125 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on May 13, 2019

    “I thought Illinois was progressive and would want to encourage EV ownership.” Ha-ha. That's what progressives do - increase taxes. The solution would be charge ICE vehicle owners even more than $1000 registration fee. Make it $2000 a year so you can save $1000 switching to EV.

  • MKizzy MKizzy on May 13, 2019

    The low operating cost advantages of owning an EV vs ICE is evaporating quickly as states seek new sources of revenue. It's natural that statehouses are going after EV's and Hybrids since their owners don't contribute to road maintenance via fuel taxes. Ohio just pretty much did the same thing as Illinois by heaping extra fees on EV/Hybrid owners. If the main reason for owning an EV is to not use fossil fuel, then these charges will be considered just part of the cost of making that decision. However, they will present another hurdle for mainstreaming EV's in the minds of less affluent buyers.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on May 14, 2019

      "If the main reason for owning an EV is to not use fossil fuel" In my case, it's a nice reason, but not the main reason. That might be #4 or 5 for me.

  • SCE to AUX Probably couldn't afford it - happens all the time.
  • MaintenanceCosts An ugly-a$s Challenger with poor equipment choices and an ugly Dealership Default color combination, not even a manual to redeem it, still no sale.
  • Cha65689852 To drive a car, you need human intelligence, not artificial intelligence.Unfortunately, these days even human brains are turning into mush thanks to addiction to smartphones and social media.
  • Mike1041 A nasty uncomfortable little car. Test drove in 2019 in a search for a single car that would appease two drivers. The compromise was not much better but at least it had decent rear vision and cargo capacity. The 2019 Honda HRV simply was too unforgiving and we ditched after 4 years. Enter the 23 HRV and we have a comfy size.
  • SCE to AUX I wonder who really cares about this. "Slave labor" is a useful term for the agendas of both right and left."UAW Wants Auto Industry to Stop Using Slave Labor"... but what will the UAW actually do if nothing changes?With unrelenting downward pressure on costs in every industry - coupled with labor shortages - expect to see more of this.Perhaps it's my fault when I choose the $259 cell phone over the $299 model, or the cheaper parts at RockAuto, or the lower-priced jacket at the store.Do I care about an ethical supply chain? Not really, I just want the product to work - and that's how most consumers are. We'd rather not know.Perhaps the 1990s notion of conflict-free, blood-free, ethically-sourced diamonds will find its way into the auto industry. That would be a good thing.