Chris Sandvig | June 14, 2023
At Mobilify, our primary focus is not on single-occupancy private vehicles. While electrifying private vehicles is certainly a priority, many other externalities associated with cars still run counter to our mission. However, we cannot ignore the conversation surrounding EV fees as it relates to our concerns for climate justice and equitable, rapid decarbonization. We believe it is crucial to ensure that the fees imposed on electric vehicles are fair and just, not just for motorists but also for the sustainability of transportation funding and a huge opportunity to reinvest in mode shift away from the car.
It is worth noting that most EV motorists, in Pennsylvania, do not contribute to the maintenance and operation of our transportation network. Unfortunately, many electric vehicle owners are unaware of this fact. This is a small yet rapidly-growing concern, especially for a state like Pennsylvania, where our surface transportation network’s maintenance and upkeep is funded predominantly by expending fossil fuels. As the market for EVs grows, Pennsylvania and the nation have a limited window of opportunity to establish a just and politically viable EV fee system that does not hinder accessibility to electric vehicles based on energy price structures.
As such, as Pennsylvania develops an EV fee structure, we believe the following points must be considered:
- The fees for electric vehicles should be easy to pay and low-cost to collect, so that they don’t discourage people from buying EVs.
- Before creating a new system for collecting taxes on EVs, officials should investigate whether new technology can be used to accurately measure EV usage and collect taxes that way.
- If a flat fee is used for EVs, it should not unfairly burden smaller vehicles and/or those who drive fewer miles/yr than the average PA motorist; current bills would require a Chevy Bolt owner to pay as much as an electric delivery truck operator, per year despite the Bolt weighing a fraction of the truck and the operator driving far fewer miles/yr.
- Drivers of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles should not be double-taxed for the same thing, and the fees should be fair for all types of vehicles.
- The government agencies responsible for collecting taxes on EVs should have the necessary technology and expertise to do so accurately and fairly.
Lastly, let’s not overlook the larger issue of transportation funding in the Commonwealth and the political will required to address it. Electric vehicle fees alone will not address PennDOT’s funding shortages, nor will they solve the larger problem of an inadequate and inequitable transportation system funding model. Rural drivers are often forced to pay more than their fair share, while transit, walking, and biking infrastructure are woefully underfunded. Implementing EV fees would only, at best, continue this trend, rather than addressing it. We believe that the focus should be on transportation funding as a whole. In conclusion, we urge officials to carefully consider the impact of electric vehicle fees and keep in mind the bigger picture.