According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, the registration fee for an electric vehicle in the state of Tennessee as of December 2022 is $100. This is an additional fee for any vehicle that has a plug – applies to plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) as well as battery electric vehicles (BEVs, electric only) – but not to hybrid-only vehicles.
Electric vehicle registration fees have been implemented all over the United States as a way to recuperate the loss of revenue from the tax on the sale of gasoline that is provided to the state (the state “motor fuel excise tax”). For example, Alabama has a $200 state EV registration fee, Missouri has a $75 fee, Virginia has a $64 fee and North Carolina has a $130 fee (see a table of other state plug-in and related vehicle fees at the end of the article). These additional fees come with their own stipulations which vary by state such as the weight of the vehicle or type of vehicle (BEV vs. PHEV, for example).
According to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the funding from the gas tax is added to TDOT’s total state budget and is used for road resurfacing, bridges, major reconstruction projects, new construction, consultant contracts, right-of-way purchases and to match federal funds, highway maintenance contracts and basic operating costs.
How does that $100 additional fee for EV drivers stack up against the gas tax an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle driver would pay?
By the Numbers
On average, a person in the U.S. drives their vehicle 13,476 miles per year according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration.
The Tennessee gas tax as of December 2022 is 27.4 cents per gallon (26-cent gasoline tax + 1.4-cent special petroleum fee). That equates to $0.274/gallon. We did not get into the minutia of Tennessee state fuel tax management; there could be other details that impact the final amount that the state retains.
To calculate a range of examples, total state gas taxes that Tennessee drivers would pay over a year, we need two sets of numbers: vehicle fuel economies and how many miles they drive in a year.
To first derive how many gallons of gas per year a vehicle is using, vehicles with various fuel economies were chosen (see table below; a range of 19-52 MPG). Then we selected a range of different annual miles that different drivers might drive in a year and chose 4,000, 8,000, 13,500, and 18,000 miles (there are certainly outlier cases of people that drive less and more miles than those numbers, but these should cover 90+ percent of TN drivers). Multiplying the fuel economies by the annual miles provides a range of gallons of gasoline consumed in a year.
We then multiplied the resulting numbers by the state fuel tax rate of $0.274/gallon. The final numbers are the amount of state gas tax paid annually depending on the vehicle’s mileage and the amount that the vehicle is driven per year.
According to the results, the range of annual gasoline state fuel tax starts at just over $20 for high fuel economy, low mileage drivers) and hits a maximum of $260 for lower fuel economy, high mileage drivers. Using the near-average number of 13,500 miles per year, a Tennessee driver can expect to pay a state gasoline tax of roughly $140 annually.
As it currently stands, the $100 electric vehicle registration fee that EV drivers pay annually is less than but close to what the average ICE driver would pay in the gas tax in Tennessee. The EV registration fee is utilized in the same budget that the gasoline tax is each year to repair and maintain Tennessee’s roadways and infrastructure.
The below table shows recent state EV fees from across the country with splits for PHEVs and hybrids where known, plus a few notes for some states. The data was pulled from here.