Hybrid vehicle owners sound off on increased car tab renewal fee

TACOMA - Pierce County resident Bengt Asplund is a satisfied Prius driver.

“Everything about the car we are really happy with,” Asplund said.

But Asplund and every hybrid vehicle owner in the state will have to pay more in car tab renewal fees starting now.

A new law aimed at expanding electric vehicles is charging all hybrid vehicle owners $75 more at each renewal.

The Department of Licensing is in the process of tallying the exact number of registered hybrid vehicles in Washington state. At this time they believe there are roughly 130,000.

Nearly $10 million a year will be generated from the increased hybrid fees and it will go towards creating additional charging stations for electric cars. The funds will also give sales tax exemptions for people buying more affordable electric cars, any new electric car that’s $45,000 or less or a used electric car for $30,000 or less.

Still, many hybrid drivers are upset over the increased cost. Many on Twitter expressed frustration over why they are being forced to pay more for a charging station they do not use.

But Asplund disagrees.

“Not opposed to that, I think that’s the way we are going so we might as well support it,” Asplund said.

Asplund is already dealing with high car tabs because of ST3, Sound Transit’s light rail expansion. ST3 drove up car tabs for drivers in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

But Asplund says he still supports the latest increase on hybrids.

“I’m living on fixed income but I think you have to support the whole community,” Asplund said.

As more drivers get into hybrids and electric cars, the state is seeing a loss in gas tax revenue.

DOL says there were just over 42,500 plug-in electric cars as of early 2019. State lawmakers behind the measure are hoping to increase those numbers. Owners of electric cars will also be hit by the extra $75.

Sarah Phillips says the increased costs will impact low income and middle-class people negatively. Phillips says she was hoping to buy a Sonata hybrid but now she is conflicted.

“That’s something I don’t want to do, spend extra money on it when I am buying this car to save money,” Phillips said.

State Senator Rebecca Saldana, who is behind the increased fee, released this statement:

“As an owner of a hybrid vehicle, the new $75 fee will impact me and my family, as well. The hope is that people who have purchased hybrid vehicles are interested in limiting carbon emissions, and would be more open to a fee to help encourage expanding the use of vehicles with zero carbon emissions.  I, myself, even hope to buy an electric vehicle. Making charging stations more widespread and accessible is imperative for encouraging middle- and lower-income people to switch to electric cars.”