Startup electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian sees no benefit, logic to punitive fee hike proposal
Michael McHale, director of corporate communications for an emerging electric truck and SUV manufacturer, cautions that there will be no winners if Illinois lawmakers’ follow through with their ill-advised attempt to hike registration fees for electric vehicles (EVs) nearly 60 times over.
“EVs cause significantly fewer negative impacts to society and the environment versus gasoline vehicles,” McHale, of Plymouth, Mich.-based Rivian, told Prairie State Wire. “However, we recognize that EV owners should contribute to road maintenance, as should all road users. Figures suggest that the average gasoline vehicle user contributes $135 per year from gasoline taxes to road maintenance. Therefore, charging EV owners $1,000 is incredibly inappropriate and disproportionate to their effect.”
Illinois Democratic Sen. Martin Sandoval (Chicago) has proposed the massive fee increase from their current annual cost of $17.50 to $1,000 as part of a plan he envisions will raise upwards of $2 billion for road improvements and infrastructure upgrades across the state. The bill would also see the state’s gas tax double to 44 cents per gallon and raise the registration fee for standard vehicles by roughly 33 percent to $148.
Supporters of the measure argue that it seems reasonable given the fact that all EV owners are free from having to pay any gas taxes. But critics like McHale say the math hardly adds up in logical terms.
“Even under the new proposal, gasoline powered cars will pay only $225 per year in gasoline taxes,” McHale said. “Imposing fees on EVs that are over 400 percent more than their gasoline-powered counterparts is not only unfair, it discourages promising new technology that will reduce our dependence on petroleum, reduce emissions and promote the Illinois economy.”
Rivian, which will begin production at its downstate factory in Normal in 2020, sees the proposal as a potential disincentive for Illinoisans to buy electric vehicles. EV sales in the U.S. topped 200,000 vehicles in 2018, which accounted for roughly 2 percent of all auto sales, according to the Chicago Tribune. Illinois ranked No. 7 in national sales with 6,400 EVs sold.
Data shows there were about 15,000 electric vehicles registered across the state as recently as last month, with analysts forecasting that number to surge as manufacturers like Rivian ramp up production and consumers more readily embrace the increasingly available cars, trucks and SUVs.