Tax electric cars by the mile? 'The gas tax cannot survive'

Tax electric cars by the mile? 'The gas tax cannot survive'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Myron Chadowitz loves his new electric Chevy Volt.

"I love that it's fast, it's zippy and fun to drive," said Chadowitz.  

The feature that tops it all for Chadowitz: he hasn't had to top off the gas tank since he bought the car in April.

If electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars do not consume gasoline, they don't have to pay the state gas tax.

Legislators are looking to change that.

The Oregon State Legislature is trying to figure out ways to generate more money for road projects and construction.

One idea is to charge drivers of electric and plug-in hybrid cars a fee per mile driven.

A task force - created by the state legislature - will begin a pilot program in the fall to look at ways to generate more funding.

"The gas tax cannot survive over time and we've got to examine a replacement," said Oregon Department of Transportation manager James Whitty. Whitty is part of the ODOT Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding.  

Chadowitz said he understands why the government would want the revenue but has a few concerns. "It makes sense, but I'm taxed on electricity. I don't know how they would track it ... how they would pull it off," he said.  

According to Whitty, there would be an app on your mobile device and it would be connected to an on-board device. The app would track a driver's mileage, sending information to the government.

If a driver doesn't have a mobile phone, a tracking device would be put in the car. This tracking device would not use GPS.

Whitty said the state government needs more money to work on projects. "ODOT is having to go through cuts right now to be able to keep up the road system and projects are in jeopardy right now," he said.

With the proposed fee, Whitty said drivers would pay approximately 1.56 cents per mile.