The federal government and many states have offered car buyers incentives to venture into the electric car market. But now some states are going in a different direction.
They’re charging owners more. And Idaho recently approved one of the country’s highest fees for electric cars.
The issue is that states traditionally fund highways with a gas tax, but you only pay that if you buy gas. Last week, Idaho lawmakers voted to charge electric vehicle owners an extra $140 annual registration fee.
That was news to Cleve Buttars. He lives in Twin Falls and drives a Tesla Model S electric car.
“I think that everybody has to pay their share. And I think that electric vehicles are going to catch on. I love mine,” Buttars said. “I think that the legislature did the right thing. I think $140 -- I would pay way more than that.”
Buttars is a retired farm equipment dealer. He said he puts a lot of miles on Idaho roads traveling back and forth to his second home in Utah.
Still, critics argue the move will be a disincentive to buyers. Buttars’ Tesla is one of only 184 electric vehicles registered in Idaho.
Idaho’s transportation package, now awaiting the governor’s signature, also includes an extra annual fee of $75 for hybrid vehicles.
The federal government still offers tax incentives for electric vehicles, but states are starting to worry their old model for roads funding won’t cut it in a world populated by hybrid and electric vehicles.
Seven states have existing or pending laws that charge electric vehicle drivers extra, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington has had a $100 fee on electric cars since 2013 and some lawmakers there say it’s time to do away with state tax breaks for buyers. Georgia’s general assembly just approved a $200 fee -- the highest in the country -- while also ending the state’s electric vehicle tax credit.
Advocates for electric cars say it’s too early to pull the plug on consumer incentives.