Motorists think it’s unfair for electric vehicle owners to use roads without paying fuel excise for their upkeep, leading to calls for a user-pays road tax.

According to a survey of 18,000 motorists by toll-road operator EastLink, 47 percent of people think electric vehicles should pay their way, while just 37 percent said it’s fair for cleaner cars to use roads without paying some kind of fuel excise.

A slight majority favoured a road-use charge over the current system, with 40 percent agreeing a per-kilometre charge is a good idea, compared with the 37 percent who opposed it.

The remaining respondents didn’t commit to either side, simply ticking ‘don’t know’ on the survey.

A road-use charge, also dubbed the user-pays model or a congestion charge, has been backed by Infrastructure Australia on numerous, but the proposal hasn’t been taken up by state or federal governments.

Rather than forcing motorists to pay registration and tax on their cars, Infrastructure Australia says a user-pays model allows “direct charging that reflects each user’s own consumption of the network, including the location, time and distance of travel, and the individual characteristics of their vehicle such as weight and emissions”.

Essentially, the further you drive, the more you pay.

Although there’s more than one approach, most suggested models charge motorists more to drive during peak hour, while heavy vehicles like trucks and buses would be hit with higher per-kilometre fees.

According to the EastLink survey, 51 percent of people also think it should be cheaper for electric vehicles to use the road to encourage adoption.

Based on the 2018 Federal Budget, the fuel excise will net the Commonwealth Government $12.6 billion over the next fiscal year, up from $12.2 billion during 2017/18.

Forward estimates suggest the percentage of that money being pushed into ‘land infrastructure’ projects will be slashed from 61 percent in 2017/18 to just 32 percent in 2021/22.

What’s more, as new car buyers move to more efficient vehicles, the amount of money being earned from the fuel excise is likely to diminish, making the pool of money with which to maintain our roads smaller.

This support for electric vehicles corresponds with the survey’s findings on what people want to power their next vehicle.

Respondents looking to buy a vehicle in five years time favoured electric cars, with 40 percent showing a preference for hybrid power and a further 32 percent flagging interest in a pure-electric car.

Looking 10 years into the future, 38 percent of those surveyed indicated a preference for electric power.

Just 0.2 percent of respondents currently own an electric vehicle and just 1.2 percent a hybrid, with petrol – 80 percent ownership –  the dominant fuel. Diesel lagged well behind on 17 percent.

Extracted from 9News