Registration fees for hybrids, electric vehicles could be going up -- a lot

A proposal to ratchet up the annual registration fee for a hybrid or an electric vehicle cleared its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday.

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Matthew Burns
, WRAL.com senior producer/politics editor
RALEIGH, N.C. — A proposal to ratchet up the annual registration fee for a hybrid or an electric vehicle cleared its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 446 calls for increasing the fee on electric vehicles from $130 to $275 over the next three years. A new fee for hybrids would be imposed as well, starting at $87.50 and growing to $137.50 by 2022.

After 2022, the fees would be adjusted every four years to keep up with inflation.

Sponsor Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon, said that he wants to bring hybrids and electric vehicles "into parity" with other vehicles when it comes to generating revenue for highway maintenance. Electric vehicles pay no gasoline tax, which is a primary source of highway funds, he said, while hybrids produce less gas tax revenue because they're partially electric.

"It's an imperfect attempt, I realize, at bringing parity, but it's a start," Davis said.

He said he arrived at the fee structure by determining that a typical driver puts about 15,000 miles a year on a vehicle at 20 miles per gallon. That would result in $271.50 a year in gas taxes, because gas is taxed at 36.2 cents per gallon in the state.

Sen. Joyce Waddell, D-Mecklenburg, said the higher fees could discourage people from buying a hybrid or an electric vehicle.

Davis said that isn't his intent, and Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, said the proposal is simply a matter of fairness.

"Without any question, on the roads that they travel, [these vehicles] will cause just as much of a problem as my light pickup truck, and I'm paying 36 cents a gallon to ride on that road," Rabon said. "It is only fair that they pay an equal amount."

Ed Turlington, a lobbyist for Tesla, and Henry Jones, a lobbyist for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said companies that make hybrids or electric vehicles have never opposed special registration fees, but they were taken aback by the dramatic increase proposed.

"This caught us kind of fast," Jones said, noting engineers with his group were reviewing the methodology Davis used to calculate the proposed fees.

Turlington noted that Texas, Florida and New York all have large numbers of hybrids and electric vehicles on their roads, but none of those states imposes special fees on the vehicles.

"There are inequities in every formula," Davis said, noted he pays more to fill up his diesel vehicle than most drivers do.

After clearing the Senate Transportation committee, the bill must pass two more committees before going before the full Senate.


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