Electric vehicle numbers in Australia have risen nearly 160% in the past five years, prompting fears fuel taxes to pay for roads will fall in the next decade.

The motor vehicle census, newly released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, shows registered EVs increased by 159.2% to 8334 between 2013 and 2018, while there are now more than 200,000 cars in the dual-fuel category, which includes petrol-electric hybrids, The Age reports.

A fairer road user pricing system is sought by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief executive Adrian Dwyer.

“Right now a driver of a $130,000 Tesla is not paying for the use of the roads when someone in a 10-year old Holden Commodore is.”

Dwyer intends making a submission to a senate enquiry calling for a road use charge to be levied on motorists. The tax could replace fuel excise by up-loading the number of kilometres a car does to the internet.

Motorists would pay the tax on the kilometres they have driven when their car is serviced, hitting more frequent drivers with a higher share of the tax burden.

The federal government collects 41 cents in tax on every litre of petrol and diesel sold at the pump in Australia, contributing about $12.6 billion annually to government coffers.

Not all is earmarked for road and transport infrastructure, but it’s the main way the government recoups the cost of roads from those who use them the most.

Tesla and other high-end electric car owners with cars valued over $65,000 are subject to a 33% luxury car tax on their vehicles.

Senate committee on electric vehicles chairman Tim Storer agrees the hole in the tax base created by evaporating fuel excise needs to be closed.

“We need to address this before this influence of electric and more fuel-efficient vehicles creates a larger problem.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says Labor has no plans for road user pricing, but that the fuel tax aspect and reform will need study in “the next decade or so”.

A Department of Infrastructure spokesman says EV sales represent 0.2% of new vehicle sales and that any move to change could take 10-15 years.

Meanwhile, EVs seem to be more popular in some of Australia’s elite areas. Crows Nest on Sydney’s North Shore, for instance, has the highest concentration of Teslas with 30, followed by Brisbane City and Bellevue Hill.

In New Zealand, all-electric vehicles are exempt from road user charges until 2020, where the goal is more than 64,000 EVs by the end of 2021.

Extracted from Auto Talk