The rewards of driving hybrids and EVs

The rewards of driving hybrids and EVs

June 9, 2015 | OReGO Communications

Owning a hybrid car or electric vehicle (EV) is all about going green and saving some green at the same time.

Fewer emissions, lower fuel costs and insurance premiums, tax credits and higher resale values are just a few of the many rewards associated with driving an EV or hybrid. What’s not to love?

And for Oregonians who drive hybrids and EVs, it’s often about more than saving the planet and saving dollars. According to a recent ODOT survey, most also support pitching in their fair share to help keep our roads and bridges safe and in good shape.

While saving money on gas is a great reason to own a hybrid or EV, paying less in gas taxes means you may be contributing less than your fair share for road improvements for each mile you drive.

How can hybrid and EV owners help?

In addition to saving the planet and saving some green, hybrid owners can also help save Oregon’s highways by joining OReGO starting July 1. (Soon, EV owners will also be able to participate in OReGO as new technology is developed that will allow EVs to communicate with the OReGO system. Until then, EV drivers should join the OReGO interest list and the community forum on MyOReGO.org to contribute to the discussion and evolution of road charging. You’ll be the first to find out when EV technology is ready for you to try OReGO yourself.)

While it’s true that hybrid drivers (and, eventually, EV drivers) will pay a few dollars more a month with OReGO than they pay in fuel tax, the average contribution of $16.20 per month is just a fraction of the cost savings gained from fewer trips to the pump. All vehicles that enroll in OReGO pay the same rate per mile while receiving a credit on any state fuel tax used to travel those miles.

The infographic to the left (view larger here), for example, shows how much a Prius owner still saves while paying her fair share for good roads and bridges

See for yourself

Head on over to the OReGO Calculator to see how much you’d pay each month using OReGO. Just enter your estimated monthly mileage and vehicle mpg rating to compare your road usage charge payment with what you’re currently paying under the state gas tax. It’s that simple! If you’re a hybrid or EV owner, you’ll be surprised how little it would take each month to pay your fair share.

Feeling charged up and ready to pitch in? Head on over to the Interest List today to be first in line when the volunteer doors open on July 1st.

OReGO: Better roads. Happy Drivers.

10 thoughts on “The rewards of driving hybrids and EVs

  1. Cecil Denney says:

    I have an all electric LEAF, so don’t pay any fuel taxes. However, I do use the roads! I am willing to add my experience to what I believe is a more fair way to pay for the costs of keeping our roads in good condition. Hopefully, my data will prove useful.

  2. shelley.m.snow says:

    Cecil and Gladys – great to hear!! We are continually impressed by the desire of Oregonians to pay their fair share for roads. We look forward to getting this program off the ground to see what we can learn. Thanks for your comments and interest in OReGO!

  3. James Gill says:

    The road/mile tax is one of the dumbest ideas the state of Oregon has come up with. It is not the light eco-cars that are doing the damage to the roads; it’s the heavy multi-axled rigs. –This system penalizes people who do the least damage to the roads and rewards those that do the most. Leave it up to the state of Oregon to find a way to persecute those that want to have the least impact on the road system. —Also, how will out of state drivers be taxed to use the Oregon road system. —Simply idiotic.

    • Michelle Godfrey
      Michelle Godfrey says:

      Hi James,

      It’s true. Heavy vehicles do more damage than passenger cars, and freight trucks loaded to the maximum legal weight do about 8,000 times more road damage than standard passenger cars. That’s why Oregon’s heavy vehicles already pay more for road use: a weight-mile tax based on the number of axles, vehicle weight and number of miles driven.

      Unlike semi-trucks, the impact on roads created by regular cars and light trucks—from small compacts to large pickups—is practically the same across the board. It would not be fair to charge drivers of large cars a higher fee than drivers of small cars because the difference of road impacts is very small—in fact, it is barely measurable.

      Out of state drivers will continue to pay gas tax at the pump.

      Remember, this is only a “test drive” and it’s voluntary. We ask people to participate so we can learn how the system will work for the safety and benefit of all who drive in Oregon. With good information in hand, the legislature will be able to determine next steps — which might involve a rate differential based on mpg, or perhaps weight, or some other adjustments that make the system the most fair for drivers and the most sustainable for Oregon roads.

      Thanks for participating!

      • >Unlike semi-trucks, the impact on roads created by regular cars and light trucks—from small
        >compacts to large pickups—is practically the same across the board.
        Really? That doesn’t make intuitive sense to me, could you please explain further, or at least give a source for that statement? I thought the road damage from regular cars and light trucks (two axles and four wheels) was proportional to weight.

  4. Peter Burnham says:

    I can’t understand why ODOT is even considering such a plan. The fuel tax works and works well. Specifically:

    • The fuel tax costs more for lower MPG vehicles and incents people to operate high mpg vehicles
    • The fuel tax is in place and has worked for DECADES
    • The fuel tax requires no technical infrastructure

    The concerns with vehicle tracking are:

    • A lack of privacy!
    o It matters not what precautions ODOT takes, a subpoena or a hacker will obtain driver records. The fuel tax is anonymous to the user

    • Increased cost.
    o Somebody has to pay for all this and the cell carriers will not do it free
    o How many more ODOT employees (or contractors) will be needed to market, install, maintain this scheme?
    • Plenty of belching old cars don’t have an OBD port and consume fuel at a higher rate.

    IF the fuel tax is not generating enough revenue because of higher mpg and electric only cars THEN raise the fuel tax! The argument that the fuel tax is ineffective on electric vehicles is just silly. A registration fee, added to the electric car registrations, that is equal to the average annual fuel tax consumed by a high mileage car driving 10,000 miles a year will suffice. Remember, the federal and state incentives for electric/hybrid cars are designed to promote their use. Now that we spent all this government resource and tax dollars on clean energy production and clean consumption why would ODOT counter the incentive with such a scheme?

    This is an over complicated scheme that is not necessary and smacks of big brother and big government. Packaging this as a “Green Option” is green washing at its best. It’s no more or less green than the fuel tax that already exists. In fact the fuel tax, because it discriminates against low mileage cars, IS THE GREEN OPTION!

    If ODOT is short on road maintenance then look for efficiencies in ODOT operations and if still necessary, raise the fuel tax. More employees and more complexity is a long way to solving a simple problem.

  5. It seems like a subsidy for SUVs and other high-impact vehicles (which produce more road wear/tear, more emissions) that is funded by a penalty on more efficient vehicles: note the infographic shows that hybrid users will pay more, and high emission vehicles will pay less, under the new system. This is sad. At the very least, the road fees should be prorated by vehicle MPG or weight.

    Was this change enacted by our legislature? Please let us know whom to contact about repealing this: it is a huge step backwards for our state and the planet.

    I absolutely support public funding for infrastructure but think that higher impact vehicles should pay their fair share, and not be subsidized by lower impact drivers. The gas tax seems like the easiest way to accomplish this.

    • Eric: Re. road wear and tear due to heavier vehicles.
      Michelle Godfrey (July 8th) provides an answer for this in this forum.
      I was surprised too that Hummers and Priuses are essentially equal in road wear – i.e. both minimal compared to tractor-trailers, buses etc.
      I did research this a bit myself and that seems to be corroborated.

      Having said that, it does seem intuitive that roads already potholed (such as many Portland neighborhood streets) will crumble more rapidly under attack from heavier SUVs and the like. But that is a city issue and Orego provides for state needs.

      Also the program appears to be strictly about development and maintenance of roads and related infrastructure, not about who pollutes more. That certainly should be addressed too but I don’t think that’s the intention here.
      The program seems to be more of a “road usage fee (or tax)”.
      That could be it’s fatal flaw too. To your point about the gas tax being appropriate for high polluters: Yes indeed. It makes sense. But as I understand it Orego will refund all gas taxes in exchange for mileage based fees. This is a WIN/LOSE at best. It levels a playing field, which really ought to be heavily tilted, by letting heavy polluters off the hook!

      So, like you, I have many concerns about Orego.

  6. Drinking the “Cool-Aid”. I am amazed that people actually think electric cars are free of “carbon footprint”. Coal is used to produce power, yes I know Oregon has hydroelectric. More efficient cars are penalized with this method. What other information is BIG BROTHER collecting from your vehicle’s data port?

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