Should Electric Vehicles be Exempt from Toll Charges?

Launch of the Mahindra e2o
Launch of the Mahindra e2o

There is a growing debate in the UK, and indeed around the world, as to whether electric vehicles (and other environmentally friendly modes of transport) should be free from toll charges on bridges, roads, etc. Many experts believe this could be yet another way to entice motorists to at least look at the electric vehicle market and should in due course increase the take-up of this relatively new mode of transport.

This is not the first time that an exemption from various road tolls, bridge charges, etc., has been mentioned with regards to "green transport" but there is a general feeling that this particular argument is now coming to a head. Indeed, a number of influential think tanks have already put forward an array of new ideas and an exemption from tolls is just one of these.

Is it fair to incentivise electric car use?

There is also a growing debate as to whether offering financial incentives for those who purchase electric vehicles, or indeed offering exemptions from road tolls, is a fair use of public money. One of the many think tanks involved in the creation of a more positive electric vehicle market is suggesting that on the whole a business or public sector operation could save around £3,800 over a four-year period, if switching to a vehicle such as the Nissan Leaf. The savings figure for employees, and private motorists, has been calculated at in excess of £5,200 over the same period.

While there is no doubt that incentives, such as an exemption from road tolls, will help grab the attention of private motorists, as well as businesses, perhaps we need more promotion of the industry itself?

The benefits are there, why are motorists not taking them up?

The truth is that in many ways the electric car market in the UK, and indeed around the world, is still suffering from the stigma of years gone by. There have been spectacular failures in this particular area and perhaps companies, motorists and governments are paying the price today?

Quote from ElectricForum.com : "There is talk in countries such as the UK of introducing an exemption from various toll charges and parking restrictions for those who drive electric vehicles. This has opened up a very interesting debate as to whether this is a good use of public money or indeed a step too far?"

Some experts believe that rather than incentivising the motoring public with an array of financial assistance, perhaps more funding should be targeted at a promotional campaign across-the-board. This would allow motorists to see exactly what is on offer in the shape of potential savings, reduction in environmental damage, and offer a perfect place to showcase new electric vehicle technology.

Should exemptions go further for electric vehicles?

While many people are already discussing the potential exemption from road tolls, some people believe that electric vehicle, (and their environmentally friendly counterparts) should also be exempt from certain parking restrictions. While this is perhaps a step too far for many people, it is at least getting people to talk about the situation, talk about the future and talk about electric vehicles.

It will be interesting to see how far the UK government, and indeed their overseas counterparts, are willing to go as a means of encouraging the take-up of electric vehicles. How much money will it take? How long will it take? Is it viable going forward?