Most experts agree that putting more electric vehicles on the road is a positive step toward fighting climate change, but a new report warns that states may need a new system to fund road construction and maintenance. Currently, EV owners pay an extra fee with their annual registration, but it is far less than the average gas tax paid by drivers of internal-combustion vehicles. Report author Patrick Anderson – CEO of the Anderson Economic Group – said that means as the number of EVs grows, highway maintenance funds will shrink. Without a new plan, he said Illinois’ already-crumbling roadways will only get worse.
“People haven’t really thought through all the implications of moving a large share of the driving public over to an electric-vehicle platform,” said Anderson. “And one of the ones that is going to surprise a lot of people is that battery-electric vehicles don’t pay any gas tax.”
Illinois drivers already pay some of the highest gas-tax rates in the nation, at 42.1 cents per gallon. EV owners currently pay about $250 a year in registration fees, while gas-powered cars cost $400 or more in fees and fuel taxes. In a recent study, Illinois ranked 14th worst in the nation for road infrastructure, with 20% of state roads – more than 6,500 miles – rated non-acceptable, and 12% of bridges in poor condition. To make things worse, the state ranked near last in spending on repairs. Illinois is expected to receive approximately $11 billion over five years in transportation funds from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure bill, but Anderson said it’s unclear how that will be spent.
“For a lot of people who make a switch to an electric vehicle, they’re paying $100 or $200 less a year in road taxes, but they’re putting more weight on the road,” said Anderson. “That’s a big switch and something that has significant consequences for our ability to maintain our roads.”
Illinois officials say they are studying ways to equalize the costs, including a tax at the charging station or a per-mile fee, but they have not finalized a proposal.