Publication Detail

How Will We Fund Our Roads? A Case of Decreasing Revenue from Electric Vehicles

UCD-ITS-RP-15-88

Research Report

Plug-In Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center

Suggested Citation:
Jenn, Alan, Inês Azevedo, Paul Fischbeck (2015) How Will We Fund Our Roads? A Case of Decreasing Revenue from Electric Vehicles. Transportation Research Part A 74, 136 - 147

Annual expenditures for transportation infrastructure have recently surpassed the funding available through tax and fee collection. One large source of revenue generation for transportation infrastructure is use fees that are charged through taxes on gasoline both on a federal and state level. A massive adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States would result in significantly lower gasoline consumption and thus reduce the revenue collected to maintain the U.S. transportation infrastructure. We investigate how different vehicles will change the annual fee collected on a marginal basis. In addition, we assess the effects of adoption of alternative vehicles on revenues using several projections of alternative vehicles adoption, both on a state-by-state basis and at the national level. We find that baseline midsize and compact vehicles such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic generate approximately $2500–$4000 in tax revenue over their lifetime. Under the current funding structure, battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) such as the Nissan Leaf generate substantially less at $400–$1300, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) such as the Chevrolet Volt generate $1500–$2700. Even in states with high lifetime fees due to fuel taxes, such as California, revenue generation can be upwards of 50% lower than in states with high registration fees such as Colorado. Total annual revenue generation decreases by about $200 million by 2025 as a result of EV adoption in our base case, but in projections with larger adoption of alternative vehicles could lead to revenue generation reductions as large as $900 million by 2025. Potential schemes that charge user fees on alternative fuel vehicles to overcome the decrease in revenue include a flat annual registration fee at 0.6% of the vehicle’s manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) or 22¢ per mile fee.

Key words: Funding transportation infrastructure; Taxes and fees; Electric vehicles; Gas tax