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Illinois Becomes Latest State to Charge EV Owners With Annual Fee

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【Summary】llinois Sen. Martin Sandoval has announced a plan would see drivers looking to register their electric vehicle pay $1,000 annually. That’s a dramatic increase of 5,614 percent from the current rate of $17.50 per year.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 14, 2019 9:21 AM PT
Illinois Becomes Latest State to Charge EV Owners With Annual Fee

In Northwestern Europe, electric cars reign supreme. Countries like Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark, all have something in common that's pushing consumers toward electric vehicles: generous tax brakes and rebates. Unlike those countries, the U.S. has gone in another direction, hitting drivers behind the wheel of an EV with high fees.

Prepare For A $1,000 Annual EV Fee In Illinois

According to Bloomberg, 24 states have come up with special fees that only owners of electric cars have to pay. For the majority of those states, the fees are part of the registration process for the cars, which can get as high as $200 in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, West Virginia, and Arkansas. While $200 seems like an extravagant amount, Illinois Senator Martin Sandoval proposed a plan that would see EV owners be forced to pay a $1,000 annual fee to register their vehicle.

At $1,000 a year, The Chicago Tribune reports that the fee would be an increase of 5,614% over the current fee of just $17.50. The thinking behind the ridiculously high fee, as Bloomberg points out, is a way for EV owners to pay into the system to keep roads and bridges maintained in the state. This is primarily done through taxes put on gasoline, but since electric cars don't use gas, states have had to initiate fees to get the job done. Even California, which is seen as the champion of alternative fuel cars, requires a $100 annual fee on electrified vehicles.

"My feeling is that people using the system should pay for the system," said Iowa Rep. John Forbes, claims Bloomberg.

Why Fees Will Hurt Electric Car Sales

Unfortunately, what these states are really doing, is slowing the mass acceptance of electric cars in the U.S., which goes against the grain of what nearly every other country is doing. Adding extra fees, especially pricey ones, on top of the high prices of EVs, the lack of charging stations, and the high cost of getting a charging port put into one's home, states like Illinois are all but crossing the T on ensuring that EVs never see the road.

"I suspect that behind a lot of these state efforts, there is a bit of an oil-industry push to slow the increase of EVs in the market," Simon Mui, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Bloomberg.  

EV sales in the U.S. are rising, the outlet claims that 565,032 battery-powered vehicles were registered across the nation last year, and that must be a freighting scene for the oil industry and states that rely on income from the taxes on gas. With more fuel-efficient gasoline engines in production and the rise of EVs, Bloomberg believes that gasoline tax revenues could decrease by 61% by 2040.

Charging EV owners an annual fee of $100 or even $200 to help maintain a state's roads doesn't sound awful. And it's probably something a lot of owners would be happy to do. But Illinois' plan to shoot right up to $1,000 would all but ensure that consumers stay away from battery-powered machines. Very, very far away.

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