The Hybrid Registration Penalty

Commentary by Christine Hagerbrauner on Oregon's new licensing fee on hybrid-electric vehicles.

Published: 24-Feb-2003

With instability in the Middle East and growing concern about air pollution and climate change, drivers of hybrid gas-electric vehicles are remaining cool. They know their choice to purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle reduces our dependence on foreign oil and the environmental impacts of driving.

Oregon hybrid owners were shocked, therefore, when the 2001 Oregon Legislature doubled the amount they and electric car owners must pay to register their cars, leaving the fee unchanged for conventional vehicles. Why would the state penalize them for a community-oriented decision to purchase the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market?

The Oregon Department of Transportation is rightly concerned that as fuel efficiency increases, gas tax revenues decrease. Gas taxes and registration fees are the primary source of funding for our roads. And all vehicles that use the roads should pay for their upkeep. But it's odd that ODOT targeted hybrids. Consider that:

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