Is it worth funding roads at the cost of cleaner vehicles?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015Climate and Energy Team

The Michigan legislature is still struggling to craft a road funding bill, but luckily the most recent version cut down a bit on outrageous registration fees for alternative fuel vehicles. 

The legislation proposed originally looked to fund road repairs in part by placing heavier registration fees on electric vehicle owners --  $225 a year for plug-in electric vehicles and $100/year for hybrids. After weeks of campaigning against these hikes, we're glad to see that those fees have been dropped to an extra $100 for PEVs and an $30 for hybrids in the bill that passed the House Roads and Economic Development committee.

Our Climate and Energy Program Directory Charles Griffith spoke at the committee's hearing last week. He suggested to lawmakers that they reconsider their proposal and asked why they would want to put at a disadvantage Michigan-made vehicles like the 2016 Chevy Volt which is due to be launched later this year. While committee members may have listened, the Senate is taking up road funding legislation as well. Senator Shirkey recently re-introduced a bill that includes a $75 fee for EVs and is still arguing that because EVs don't use gasoline, the government is missing out on road funding dollars from these vehicles.

But that's a mistaken assumption. We've argued that electric vehicles are already paying their fair share. In fact, because of the higher purchase price of EV’s, some owners pay as much as twice the annual registration fees as owners of comparable gasoline vehicles, more than offsetting any gas tax revenues that may be lost. Increasing those fees even higher starts to feel more like a penalty for choosing a cleaner vehicle, not an effort to make funding more fair. 

We agree with the need to repair our roads, but also think it should not come at the cost of increasing sales and the manufacture of cleaner vehicles in Michigan. Please consider contacting your legislators to let them know that you think the registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles are already fair, and that the legislature should figuring out more ways to encourage the uptake of cleaner vehicles in the state rather than the other way around.  

Image courtesy of Flickr user byronv2

Published on June 3, 2015