Electric cars don’t consume gasoline and therefore owners of electric cars will generally contribute less to the general road maintenance fund because they aren’t paying a gasoline tax. A bill introduced to the state Senate attempt to put a bandaid on this problem by requiring that electric car owners pay an annual $100 fee. While the general idea that electric car owners should contribute to the road maintenance fund is sound, the method is kind of stupid. A far better solution is a vehicle miles traveled tax. Gas mileage in automobiles varies so dramatically that owners are already paying disproportionate amounts of gas tax.
The vehicle miles traveled tax could be implemented in a fairly practical manner using existing systems in place. The idea would be to charge owners based on the number of miles they drove and the weight of their car. The combination of those two factors more accurately reflects the impact each car has on the road network. To implement this, simply have every car owner annually or biannually submit their current mileage to the State of Washington. This can be done each time the license tabs need renewing, and can be checked by the state during each emissions test and each time the title is transferred.
If it turns out people aren’t truthful enough, then we’d need to require additional checks to a car’s mileage by the state. In the long run, maybe something like wireless OBD can automatically verify the vehicle’s mileage.
The bottom line is that I think we’re at a stage where VMT can and should be implemented.