QOTD: Hit 'em Where They Drive?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd hit em where they drive

As you read earlier this week, the state of Illinois wants motorists to pay up. Big time. A new proposal that stands a good chance of passing into law not only more than doubles the state’s gas tax, it would also hit electric vehicle drivers with an annual $1,000 fee — a bill for adding wear and tear to the state’s roads and bridges while depriving state coffers of sweet, sweet gas tax revenue.

Some EV drivers are not what you’d call “happy” about it. But are you?

Twenty-four U.S. states already levy some sort of fee on EV drivers, designed to make up, in a small way, for what their drivers aren’t spending at the pumps. Ohio, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia ding EV owners $200 a year; other states see fees ranging from $50 (Colorado, Wyoming) to $100 (California) and $150 (Washington). The Northeast seems completely exempt from such fees, and it is there you’ll still find some rebates offered by state governments or participating utilities.

Elsewhere, perks exist for EV buyers — from the federal tax credit that’s already halved for Tesla and General Motors vehicles, to pretty much blanket HOV lane access, assuming such a lane exists anywhere near your home.

As electric vehicle sales struggle to rise above the current 1 percent (or so) take rate, incentives are drying up at a growing pace. One can imagine how ownership costs might change in five years’ time, when greater U.S. EV uptake (born of a Euro-centric product surge) leads more states to start looking at Illinois’ tactics, assuming the bill passes.

Upstream emissions aside, EVs are clean in operation. You’ll never get a whiff of one, and their missing tailpipes are cause for celebration if climate change ranks high on your list of concerns. Now, put yourself in the governor’s mansion. Is this debatable virtuousness enough reason for EV owners to side-step paying into the road budget, or would you make like Illinois and try to recoup every last lost penny?

Sound off in the comments.

[Image: Nissan]

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  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on May 16, 2019

    Mom used to ask me if I ever thought about moving "back home" (I grew up about 2/3 of the way between Chicago and Rockford just off I-90) and my answer was always that my employer would have to double my salary or the state government had to be fixed first. There's a reason that Illinois and New Jersey are generally considered the most corrupt, it should come as no surprise that both are states that either have or are seriously contemplating an exit tax. The $1000 EV tax is a ridiculous but it's certainly intended as a luxury tax. The Model S owners will grind their teeth and pay it, which is what the state expects. I feel bad for the middle-class folks who stretched for a Prius with the hope that the TCO will be worth it over its lifetime and may have to weigh the tax vs. eating the depreciation to trade it off. I wonder how they define the Volt.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on May 18, 2019

    If the extra amount charged to the EV driver equals what the driver of a ***comparable*** ICE car would pay, then fine. So if you drive a Leaf, they should charge you what a Corolla driver would pay in gas tax over a year. Which, I feel pretty confident, is a hell of a lot less than $1000. That seems obviously excessive and punitive.

  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
  • ToolGuy You make them sound like criminals.