GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The big draw at this year’s Michigan International Auto Show is electric vehicles.
While some manufacturers are all in on EVs, others, like BMW, are taking a more cautious approach.
Unlike other manufacturers, BMW has yet to release a target date for going all-electric. The company will offer some of its most popular models in EV, hybrid and gasoline versions.
“They want to be more strategically flexible. They really don’t know, and I don’t think anybody knows when and how far electric vehicles will go as far as adoption to the consumer market,” George Sharpe Jr., general manager of Sharpe BMW, Land Rover, Mini Cooper and Jaguar, said.
While manufacturers continue to make progress in EV technology, there are still bumps in the road, both figuratively and literally.
Repairing the literal bumps has a coalition of people seeking solutions. Road funding has been a battle year after year, legislature after legislature, governor after governor.
“And then we have this new headwind called electric vehicles,” Denise Donohue, County Road Association of Michigan CEO, said.
She’s leading the coalition of counties, cities and townships responsible for local roadways.
The problem they’re addressing is simple: full EV owners don’t pay a gas tax.
A study commissioned by the coalition says EVs will make up between 15% and 25% of new car registrations by 2030.
The end result would be a reduction in state gas tax-supported road funding by some $95 million. That translates into 840 miles of road work every year.
“So that’s the distance from the city of Monroe (in southeastern Michigan) and Tahquamenon Falls (in the Upper Peninsula), back again. Both lanes. Both directions,” Donohue said.
Toll roads may seem like the obvious answer, but tolls would only generate funds for state highways, not local roads.
The coalition is suggesting three potential remedies, including an increase in the annual registration surcharge EV buyers now pay.
But a more likely solution would be a per-mile charge on EVs.
EV drivers would either self-reporting their mileage at license renewal time or install a device that records the mileage and send it to the state.
While vehicle manufacturers continue to work on issues like range and battery recycling, policymakers also have their work cut out for them.
“We need to get a resolution,” Auto Analyst Mike Wall said. “It won’t help if we don’t get a better understanding of how we’re going to handle that.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed a potential remedy that the coalition is suggesting. We regret this error which has been fixed.