Transport Theory

Will Arizona charge electric vehicle owners to drive on its roads?

Posting in Energy

Arizona is considering a controversial measure that would charge owners of electric vehicles for every mile they drive.

Electric vehicles may be a promising low-emissions method of transportation, but American consumers have been relatively slow to adopt them, whether because of 'range anxiety' or because of EVs' higher price tags.

Some states are betting on zero-emissions vehicles - like California, which recently mandated that 15 percent of new car sales in 2025 be electric, hybrid, or powered by hydrogen fuel cell. Yet Arizona - which has been considered an electric-car friendly state - recently repealed its Clean Cars law, adopting the less severe Federal emissions law.

Now, the state is going even further, proposing a pay-per-mile tax on electric car usage. The Arizona bill - modeled on a piece of proposed Oregon legislation - would charge electric car owners up to 1.43 cents per mile traveled.

Similarly to proposals being discussed in Washington state and Kansas, Arizona's proposed charge would be the electric-car equivalent of the statewide tax on gasoline purchases.

“One of the only ways we pay for our roadways is through gas tax, so if they’re not paying into the gas tax system we need to find a way of closing that loophole, and getting them to pay for the roads they use,” said Arizona State Representative Steve Farley, who introduced the bill.

These measures point to a larger issue: if we are to gradually move away from gasoline and towards alternative energy sources for our vehicles, that means less revenue from gas taxes, which go towards the upkeep of road networks.

“Someday it’s all going to be hybrids and electric vehicles,” said Jim Stack, president of the Phoenix chapter of the Electric Auto Association. “It wouldn’t do us any good if we didn’t have any roads.”

Indeed, a majority of Arizona's electric car owners agree with the proposed measure. But it is a source of concern for consumer groups, who worry that adding a tax on to the already high sticker price for electric vehicles may dissuade potential buyers.

“Any policy that is accounting for electric vehicles should be incentivizing, not discouraging,” said Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group.

This is a debate that is bound to come up in other states as well, as we see more electric vehicles on our roads. Readers, how would you get EV owners to pay for their use of state roads without disrupting the market for electric vehicles?

Photo: Ford

via [Green Car Reports]

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Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure