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To Replace Gas Taxes, Oregon and Utah Ask EVs To Pay For Road Use

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: [T]he U.S. 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. But Utahns with EVs have an alternative. Instead of paying that flat fee, they can enroll in the pilot program that involves fitting a telematics device to the car. The device tracks the actual number of miles driven on Utah’s roads. These are billed at a rate of 1.5c/mile, but only until the total equals whatever that year’s registration fee for the vehicle would have been; participating in the pilot means you could pay less than you would otherwise, but Utah’s Department of Transportation says that participants would not ever be charged more than that year’s registration fee. The data will be collected by a contractor called Emovis, which operates toll roads around the U.S. As for Oregon — another state working to solve this problem, the state 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 20â”39mpg, then $152 for a vehicle that gets 40mpg or better, and $306 for a BEV,” reports Ars Technica.

Thankfully, if you own a 40+mpg vehicle or a BEV, you can cut that two-year fee to $86 by enrolling in OReGO. However, you will need to fit your qualifying car with a telematics device to track the actual miles traveled on the state’s roads. “Those are billed at 1.8c/mile — Oregon evidently decided its roads are worth a little more than those in Utah — but you can then get credited for any fuel tax you pay in the state,” the report adds.


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