CHICAGO -- More than 20 states have imposed fees on electric vehicles (EVs), and this number could grow in 2019 as lawmakers head into a nonelection year.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 20 states have a special registration fee on plug-in EVs and some hybrids. These fees are on top of the states’ motor vehicle registration fees.
In the past three years, 14 states have enacted fees on EVs that vary from $50 to $200, Governing magazine reported, citing NCSL figures. In 2018, only two states—Utah and Mississippi—passed a new EV fee. But in 2017, nine states passed new EV fees as part of larger transportation bills, which lawmakers time for nonelection years. That means 2019—another nonelection year—could see a spike in new state EV fees.
“It’s an equity conversation,” Kevin Pula, a senior policy specialist for NCSL’s transportation program, told Governing. “States are trying to make up for lost gas-tax revenue.”
In 2019, these may include two western states with relatively small populations of EVs and hybrids.
Wyoming legislators are considering quadrupling a state fee on plug-in EVs, said the Associated Press. The state currently requires owners of plug-in EVs to buy a $50 decal each year; the bill under consideration would increase this fee to $200 per year. Hybrid vehicle owners would also be required to buy an annual decal of $100 per year. Rep. Landon Brown (R), sponsor of the bill, said it would help the state offset the 24 cents per gallon in fuel taxes that owners of hybrid and EVs are not currently paying, to help fund infrastructure projects.
In North Dakota, the state Senate approved a bill that would implement an annual $110 “road-use fee” on EVs and a $50 fee on hybrids, according to WDAY. This is lower than an earlier version of the bill, which would have levied a $248 fee on EVs and $71 fee on hybrids, and would have made it the largest such fee among the 20 states that currently have one, according to NCSL. North Dakota has only 141 EVs and 3,849 hybrids registered in the state, but supporters of the senate bill describe it as a “proactive” effort to address what is predicted to eventually become a bigger fleet. A bill in the House would charge a $180 registration fee on EVs, and give owners the option of renewing the registration each year with the cost depending on how many miles the vehicle drove in the past year.
Wyoming and North Dakota are among the states with the lowest EV market share of light-duty vehicles sold in the country, according to an analysis by EVAdoption.
Critics of the special EV fees argue that drivers of these alternative vehicles should be rewarded, not penalized. They note how few EVs are currently on the road; that because EVs typically weigh less than conventional vehicles, they cause less wear and tear on roads; and they also emit fewer to no greenhouse gases. In North Carolina, EV fees total only $12 million to $15 million per year, Pula told Governing. “But that will change as more electric vehicles are adopted. By 2040, the nation could be losing millions on gasoline revenues. Very quickly we could be in a position where these fees are very important.”