If the state Senate gets its way, North Carolina will join a small but growing number of states that collect extra fees or taxes from drivers of all-electric cars and hybrid fuel-electric cars.
The budget rolling through the Senate this week includes new annual fees of $100 for plug-in, electric-only cars and $50 for hybrids. The Senate figures this would generate an extra $1.5 million a year for state transportation needs.
The rationale for electric cars is straightforward: They use our public roads, but their drivers don't pay the fuel taxes that help build and maintain the roads.
When it comes to hybrids, the issue is murkier: They use gas or diesel fuel, so their drivers already pay fuel taxes. Are hybrid owners to be penalized for taking steps to improve their fuel economy?
Here's the budget language:
ADDITIONAL ANNUAL FEE FOR ELECTRIC AND HYBRID VEHICLES
SECTION 34.21.(a) G.S. 20‑87 is amended by adding the following new subdivisions to read:
"(13) Additional fee for certain electric vehicles. – At the time of an initial registration or registration renewal, the owner of a plug‑in electric vehicle that is not a low‑speed vehicle and that does not rely on a nonelectric source of power shall pay a fee in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100.00) in addition to any other required registration fees.
(14) Additional fee for certain hybrid vehicles. – At the time of an initial registration, or registration renewal, the owner of a hybrid vehicle that is not a low‑speed vehicle shall pay a fee in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) in addition to any other required registration fees."