California and 7 other states to implement EV fees in 2020
California accounts for around 50% of all EV sales today
2020 is just a few days away, and as per usual, so are new laws and regulations that determine what fees you'll pay to register a car. In the state of California, car owners are required to re-up their registration every year. In 2017, a new bill was passed that added an additional cost to the registration of your vehicle based on its fair market value; as low as $25 for vehicles under $5,000 and as high as $175 for vehicles worth over $60,000. While that part of the bill went into effect in 2018, there's another fee coming in 2020. Starting July 1st, 2020, owners of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEVs) will have to pay an ADDITIONAL $100 a year to keep their cars on the road. Seven other states (HI, OR, AL, KS, UT, IA, and OH) are also implementing EV registration fees at the turn of the year.
Why fees on EVs?
Photo by Roberto Nickson
State governments have argued that because EVs don't run on gasoline, they are losing the revenue from gas taxes used to maintain roads. Since EVs use the same roads as gasoline vehicles. they have proposed a blanket tax on registration. While this registration tax does help make up the revenue lost, it may be unfair to those who don't use their vehicle much.
Other solutions have been proposed, such as a pay per mile or a pay per kW system. Pay per mile would work by checking the odometer at registration whereas a pay per kW would work identically to how gas taxes work; you're taxed per mile that the energy consumed would provide you. Out of the two, I think the odometer method would work the best and would be the least intrusive to your personal information. Oregon and Utah are the only 2 states that have proposed a per-mile alternative out of the 8 implementing fees in 2020.
Consumer Reports did an analysis on the current and proposed EV fees compared to the average cost for gasoline powered vehicles and found that several states have implemented charges that would cost EV drivers MORE than if they drove a gasoline vehicle. These fees have real potential to curb the adoption of EVs and some might suggest that these high fees are the product of special interest lobbying to keep consumers from switching to electric vehicles. Personally I think these measures were put in place without much thought and should be reconsidered.