Hybrid, electric car owners in Va. to face new fee

Hybrid, electric car owners in Va. to face new fee

BRISTOL, Va. - If you live in Virginia and own a hybrid or electric vehicle you'll soon be paying more money to register your car.

Starting July 1 drivers will have to pay an additional $64 to register their hybrid or electric car. The money is designated for the Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund.

At Driver Training, Inc. in Bristol, Virginia, owner Susan Walling has three hybrid or electric cars in her fleet. Walling says she was disappointed to find out she'll soon owe Virginia more money to register her cars, so she sent a letter to her local lawmaker. "I told him I was very disappointed and that I was making an effort to help the environment and do the right thing. I felt like I was being penalized for it," she said.

Bill Gatton Chevrolet sells the Chevy Volt, an partially-electric car. "The electrics are set up to not burn a lot of gas while you're doing your in-town driving. So you do save," says operations manager Chris Lee.

The sticker on the Volt says owners will spend about $1,000 a year in fuel. That's much less than the average car, which means less fuel tax for states to collect.

Now lawmakers in both Tennessee and Virginia say they're trying to find ways to fill in the gaps in the highway budget.

We talked to Virginia lawmaker Israel O'Quinn about the increase. He says the $64 fee is actually lower than the originally-planned $100 registration fee.

But some car owners are hoping lawmakers will make a change when they're back in session in January.

We did talk to Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, who tells us Tennessee has a committee to study how the state will make up lost gas tax revenue from hybrid and electric cars, but no recommendations have been made.

In North Carolina, lawmakers are considering a fee increase similar to the one in Virginia.

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