Heavyweight BEVs facing UK ‘Pothole’ Infrastructure Tax

BEVs are at risk of facing a ‘pothole’ tax to compensate UK authorities for the damage they do because of their extra weight compared to equivalent ICE powered vehicles.

That’s the warning from BEV contract hire specialist LeaseElectricCar.co.uk pointing out that although owners are currently exempt from paying customs and excise tax until 2025, new charges could come in sooner to cover costs of road repairs. It cites the government’s think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies, recent report that the UK road network cannot handle the weight of BEVs, which is putting strain on surfaces to cause more potholes, a major issue with the nation’s infrastructure.

Now some are proposing a new pothole tax could be enforced for electric cars to help combat and pay for bad road surfaces. Because of their large lithium battery packs, made heavier still by lead and metal armored safety cages, BEVs can weigh between 33% and 50% more compared to equivalent ICE vehicles. Some battery packs can weigh as much as half a metric ton, the equivalent of an adult camel or grand piano.

The biggest problem with extra weight affects local or unclassified roads, which make up the majority of the country’s road network, such as residential or local traffic lanes. These roads are not designed to handle heavy goods vehicles and the increasing number of BEVs on the roads effectively cross that weight threshold into HGV territory.

Under current government proposals, new BEV vehicle exercise duty charges are set to be introduced in 2025. Although vehicle exercise duty doesn’t contribute to road repairs, drivers of BEVs could be charged a pothole tax in order to offset costs of road maintenance. The average cost of filling in one pothole in the UK sits at around £45.83 ($58), with one being repaired every 19 seconds. Recent estimates show it would take more than nine years and £12Bn ($15Bn) of funding to repair all of the potholes on the UK road networks.

Tim Alcock from LeaseElectricCar.co.uk, said: “Recent reports are showing that an increase in heavier electric vehicles on the roads compared to normal petrol and diesel cars could be having a bad impact on our road network. Zero-tax will soon no longer be an incentive for drivers to make the switch to electric, despite the government wanting more and more motorists to move away from petrol and diesel. Yet with proposals which are considering introducing a new ‘pothole tax’ will likely only decrease the number of Brits having reason to switch to electric.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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