For drivers of electric cars, going green is starting to take more green.
A growing number of states are imposing new fees on electric vehicles as officials scrounge for ways to pay for infrastructure projects they say are long overdue. At least five states, including California, passed bills targeting the cars this year, bringing the total number with fees on the books to 13. The charges generally range from $100 to $200 a year.
"Safe and smooth roads make California a better place to live and strengthen our economy," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement when the bill passed this spring. "This legislation will put thousands of people to work."
The passage of the fee in California — home to one of the most prominent names in electric vehicles, Tesla Motors — underscores the shift in sentiment toward the technology. Many states initially encouraged drivers to make the switch to cleaner cars through tax incentives and other measures. But now, cash-strapped and pothole-ridden, states are asking the eco-friendly to pay up.
"We see this as a concerning trend," said Gina Coplon-Newfield, director of the electric vehicles initiative at the Sierra Club. "We certainly want to see funding raised to support roads and bridges and transit. … But penalizing electric vehicle drivers is not the way to solve this problem."
The shift comes just as Tesla gives the green light for its first mass-production car, the Model 3.