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IUPUI Researchers: Don't Bother With An Electric Car Flat Tax -- It Won't Fix Roads

Frank Hebbert

Researchers say a flat fee on electric vehicles won’t help solve declining road funding revenues, like those faced here in the state. 

Electric vehicles don’t pay into road funding the same way traditional vehicles do because they don’t pay fuel taxes. 

So, some states have imposed flat registration fees of $100-200 on electric vehicles. 

But IUPUI professor Jerome Dumortier says his study shows that plug-in vehicles account for, at most, only about 1.5-percent of the decline in fuel taxes.  And he notes that a flat fee is economically inefficient.

“Should a person who drives, say, a Tesla with say a thousand miles per year, should that person pay the same charge as somebody who has a Nissan Leaf and uses the car for commuting and drives, say, ten thousand miles per year,” Dumortier says.

Dumortier says a more impactful solution is what’s called a vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, fee -- essentially charging drivers based on how much they drive.  That’s an idea that Indiana lawmakers have discussed too…though Dumortier says much of the resistance comes from privacy concerns. 

Still, he says the entire road funding model needs to shift towards VMT. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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