Dear Car Talk Question: Electric Vehicles Explained

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Thank you Julie

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Something was left out in the formula to figure cost and that is the efficiency of the charging system. Most are pretty efficient these days and no one seems to list the efficiency of the charging system. But it could significantly increase the cost of going 100 miles. Maybe the EPA should require the efficiency of the charger to be on the label as well.

And while we are on the topic, one issue that keeps popping up is how to get EV’s to pay their fair share of the road tax. Most ideas I’ve seen are complex, unfair and just plain stupid.

The simple solution is to require all EV chargers to have a surcharge meter wired into them and the utility company mount a compatible power meter to the house. All power that goes through charger will be linked back to the watt meter on the house to add the surcharge. The surcharge would be set to match the the tax on a gallon of gas, or match how much the same size ICE vehicle would pay per mile.

Public fast chargers would include the tax when they charge the customer for the charge.


That’s not simple. It requires two meters on the house, often including two transmitters to relay the data to a collection site. That basically doubles the cost to the power company to measure electricity usage for those customers with EVs. How do you ensure that these EV meters are connected? My county requires that all electrical work must be inspected by the county before authorizing use, but that isn’t the case in all counties in my state, and I well imagine that most municipalities in the US don’t require municipal inspection at all. Who is the gatekeeper? How many people making their own diesel fuel pay the state and federal taxes on the fuel they make? It seems to me that legality of such actions doesn’t matter much these days. I well imagine that many don’t. Does evading taxes mean much to those making biodiesel or charging EVs? Some, yes, but I’m skeptical taht the honors system is a good deterrent. This isn’t simple at all.

It only requires one meter, but the meter has to be modified to accept the surcharge from the charger. It will also have to transmit the surcharge to the utility company so they can separate out the taxes. I don’t see how this will be that difficult, certainly not anywhere near as complex as your cell phone.

As for charging with solar? I don’t think that will be a problem, the solar power still has to go through the charger and that can have the surcharge meter. Almost all solar rooftops are still connected to the local power grid so that meter gets read monthly.

Anyone caught evading the taxes, the key is to keep the tax well below the fines or other punishments doled on those who are caught. You know risk/reward.

I know a couple people that are completely off the grid. They live on an Island off the coast of Maine. Solar and wind and propane for power.

What make of electric car do they rely on?

They have a Polaris ev atv.

Golf Carts

There is no need to meter electricity to charge golf cars, I don’t believe they will be subject to road tax anytime soon.