Idaho’s surcharge on electric, hybrid cars far exceeds their impact on roads

Idaho currently penalizes electric vehicle owners with an extra registration fee that far exceeds their impact on roads, according to data presented to state lawmakers last week at a special hearing on the future of electric vehicles in Idaho.

The fees were imposed in 2015 at the same time that lawmakers raised the state gas tax by 7 cents a gallon to 32 cents a gallon; the idea was that hybrid or electric vehicles wouldn’t pay that increased gas tax, so they needed to pay an extra fee to proportionally offset their impact on roads, since gas-powered vehicle owners would be paying more, too.

Two years later, after a storm of protest from Idahoans who drive hybrid cars, lawmakers repealed the $75 annual surcharge on gas hybrids in 2017, acknowledging they’d erred. Those vehicles run only on gas and power they generate themselves in operation; they don’t use power from the electrical grid.

But lawmakers kept in place the $140 annual surcharge they’d slapped on electric cars, and the $75 surcharge on plug-in hybrid vehicles.