Fee increase proposed for electric, hybrid cars
A bill to boost the state registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles was tentatively approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
A bill to boost the state registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles was
tentatively approved by the Senate Transportation
Committee on Wednesday.
Owners of electric vehicles currently pay weight taxes and a registration fee of $45 per vehicle per year, but do not pay the gasoline tax. Since the gas tax is one of the primary sources of funding for maintaining the state network of roadways, “we need to have them pay their fair share,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Inouye.
“It’s just the level playing field for the impact on our highway system and roads,” said Inouye (D, Kaupulehu-Waimea-North Hilo).
Senate Bill 1011 would impose an extra annual registration fee of $70 for electric vehicles and $35 for hybrids to try to equalize the tax burden between conventional vehicles and the more fuel-efficient hybrids and electric cars.
Inouye said there are about 7,000 electric vehicles and 25,000 hybrids on
Hawaii highways today.
Ed Sniffen, deputy director of the state Department of Transportation’s Highways Division, said it is good that Hawaii residents are switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles, but the state wants to ensure “that everybody pays their fair share.”
The department calculates that most Hawaii residents drive an average of somewhat more than 10,000 miles a year and pay about $70 in state gasoline taxes, which was the basis for the proposed new charge for electric vehicles. Hybrids use roughly half as much fuel
as ordinary passenger cars, which is how the state arrived at the $35 figure.
Shem Lawlor, clean transportation director at the Blue Planet Foundation, said electric vehicle owners including Lawlor have been enjoying a subsidy since they don’t have to pay gasoline taxes.
“I think if you’re looking at a fairness issue in terms of impact on the roadway, I think it is fair to charge EV owners a special fee,” he said. However, in the long term the fuel tax will not be a sustainable way to pay for highway construction and maintenance, he said.
The mayors of each of
the state’s four counties late last year signed policy
statements setting a goal
of 100 percent clean ground transportation by 2045, which means the state is
financing its road network through a tax on a fuel that the government is trying to phase out, Lawlor said.
He said the long-term solution is a new type of user fee that would be charged to motorists based on the number of miles they drive, which state transportation officials have been trying to develop.
SB 1011 now goes to the full Senate for further consideration.