… the US has traditionally paid for the upkeep of its roads via direct taxation of gasoline and diesel fuel, which means that as our fleet becomes more fuel-efficient, that revenue will drop in relation to the total number of vehicle miles traveled each year.
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.
Oregon is another state that has been working on solving this problem for a while now—this Ars forum thread about the topic is exactly 11 years old today, in fact. In 2020, Oregon is increasing its state gas tax by 2c/gallon, and like Utah, it’s also increasing vehicle registration fees. Now, fees for registering your car in Oregon will depend on how many miles per gallon your car gets; a two-year registration for something that gets below 19mpg will cost $122, rising to $132 for a vehicle between 20–39mpg, then $152 for a vehicle that gets 40mpg or better, and $306 for a BEV.
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