If you live in the state of Washington, and own a vehicle with an all-electric powertrain, prepare to pay an additional $100 when your annual car registration is due.
The new fee was established as Section 10 of Engrossed House Bill 2660. The new code says that vehicles powered solely by electricity, and that are capable of speeds in excess of 35 mph, will have to pay the new fee in addition to any other fees and taxes required at the time of registration, starting on or after February 1, 2013.
Since electric vehicles (EV) don’t use gasoline they avoid paying the state’s gasoline tax. The new fee is created, in part, to ensure that EVs in Washington contribute to funds used to “mitigate the impact of vehicles on state roads and highways,” just as gasoline-powered vehicles do.
Jay Friedland, legislative director for Plug In America, a California-based electric car advocacy group, said in article by the Associated Press that, “$100 isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s not well-balanced policy.”
“EV drivers really want to pay their fair share but it seems ridiculous from a policy standpoint,” Friedland said. The state on the one hand has given out sales tax exemptions to encourage residents to buy more electric vehicles, while charging the fee on the other hand, he said.
Interestingly, subsection 3 (a) of Section 10 that spells out use of the new fee for road maintenance also says that the fee is to be used for “… the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of transitioning from a revenue collection system based on fuel taxes to a road user assessment system …”
What will come of this is anyone’s guess. But it appears that although alternative-fuel powertrain vehicles make up a small portion of the auto market, they’re making an impact on the transportation network, and state governments are starting to take notice.