How do they decide how much road tax an private person has to pay for a car in the state of California? What are the variables?

How do they decide how much road tax an private person has to pay for a car in the state of California? What are the variables?

I can tell you how it works in The Netherlands. Here it things like weight of the car, the date when the car came to rhe road (meaning the age of the car), fuell type of the car (petrol/diesel/LPG/electric etc.), CO2-Emission level of the car (grams/km), and the province where the owner lives decide how much road tax there has te be paid per month/year.

I would like to know how it works in the state of California. Maybe someone would like to explain that to me. I would appreciate that.

GeekEV | 3 mei 2013

There is no road tax per se (that I'm aware of, anyway). There are gasoline taxes, but, of course, we don't use that. :-) There's also taxes built into the vehicle registration fees. I'm not sure how much of that, if any, goes towards road taxes. I'm not very political, but it's my understanding that roads are seriously underfunded here in the USA, which probably explains why our roads around here as such garbage.

GeekEV | 3 mei 2013

@Kleist - And that helps how? Does it give you a breakdown of where the fees go?

Kleist | 3 mei 2013

It helps because in CA what you pay depends on the car value. As far as I remember in Europe it has nothing to do with the value of the car.
Where does the money go ? - no it doesn't help with that.

Benz | 4 mei 2013

So, there is no monthly/annual payment to be made for making use of the roads in California?

Wow, then you guys are saving a lot of money on that.

We pay about 50 - 120 euro per month (for most of the petrol cars).

And for a car that runs on diesel we pay about 80 - 240 euro per month.

And this goes to the government as general income. Meaning that it is not spent on roads alone.

I think I can easily say that the roads in The Netherlands are very good indeed.

Tesluthian | 4 mei 2013

Actually some commercial vehicles pay a tax for every mile driven in a state like Cali. Diesel taxes are also higher and used by a lot of commercial vehicles. Same for tolls, where there are tolls, some commercials pay a higher rate.

Using dedicated taxes for general expenses is an old GOV't trick. Our GOV't also gives itself a loan to spend all the cash in our Social Security retirement funds acquired from SS taxes. Try giving yourself a 100k dollar loan to buy a Tesla and see how well that works.

Benz | 4 mei 2013

I would like to restrict the conversation in this thread to cars that are used by private people only. No commercial or business cars please.

Do private people also have to pay tolls in California?

Tesluthian | 4 mei 2013

Sorry Benz, didn't read your header closely enough. Yeah private cars pay tolls in Ca., generally +/- $5-$6 dollars Anerican for a short strip of road, or to cross a bridge in San Francisco etc. The only thing is there are very few toll roads. 1-2 % of the roads maybe are toll roads, if that, in Ca.

Benz | 4 mei 2013

I know that there are many toll roads in France (highways).

And when I went to the Geneva Motorshow, I had to buy a Vignet (34.50 Euro) to be allowed to drive in Switzerland. This Vignet is attached to the front window of my car, and it's valid for a full year. Very nice country with a great many tunnels and very good roads.

A few days ago I read that Elon Musk donated 50,000 USD to speed up the fixing of some highway.

Shouldn't there be some new kind of system to finance the fixing of the roads that are not good any more?

I remember having seen a video of Elon Musk on YouTube in which he talks about his idea of how to better the current situation. It sounded like a simple system, he even compared it to LEGO. I believe it was like having one road on top of the other.

Tesluthian | 4 mei 2013

The Switzerland Vignet sounds like our windshield mounted, toll transponders we have here in the U.S. Different states have different ones. Ca, Florida, Oklahoma, Kansas all have there own transponders. Chicago has two, iPass or they also take EZPass. A small group of states also take EZPass, mostly Midwest & Northwest states including Md, Oh, Pa, NY, DE, NH & Maine.

A nice feature on U.S. toll roads are EZ-on & EZ-off fuel/food/parking facilities right on the interstate. Generally these are privately funded through rental fees to the food companies. But these EZ-on/off facilities exist only on toll roads. The only exception I know is Connecticut, after that businessmen complained and they were outlawed on non-toll rds. This is a shame because they are quite a convenience for travelers.

Benz | 5 mei 2013

It's nice to learn things that you don't know about foreign countries. There are so many things we do differently.

FLsportscarenth... | 5 mei 2013

34 Euro admission charge to drive in CH... Not nice... I would view that as an expensive toll of sorts.

In the US there is no road tax as such - most of the the revenue to build and repair roads comes from fuel tax which varies by state and county. The registration fee (when you get your license plate [number plate] mostly goes for highway policing.

I avoid toll roads whenever possible as I think I pay quite enough in fuel tax already, I hate bridge tolls or other type of 'chokepoint' tolls like in New York or the Bay Area but I do not object to using tolls to fund new construction of beltways where there is a free alternate (like the 407 ETR in Toronto, the Orange County Corridors in CA or The Sawgrass Expressway north of Miami), these roads remove traffic from the free roads like 401, I-5 and I-95 and the rich yuppie types that use them to get to their McMansions in the sprawl suburbs do not mind paying for convenience anyway. I do not mind HOT (High occupancy or Toll) lanes (aka Lexus lanes) on existing free freeways providing they are added lanes so the tolls pay for widening, not takeaway of existing lanes...

I think the US system in not to bad and relatively fair compared to systems elsewhere in the world. ICE car drivers are 'punished' for driving inefficient vehicles already and with EVs the fuel tax acts like a defacto 'carbon tax'. It is good and right that EV drivers are rewarded by not paying fuel tax under the current system.

If I could modify the US system I would increase the registration fees for new ICE cars to fund more EV incentives like sales tax exemptions and discounted registration fees for EVs. I would stop non highway government programmes from pilfering fuel tax monies and make free all 'chokepoint' tolls.

Having driven in southern Africa I remember paying some ridiculous sum (like $50) for road tax to drive a Western Cape registered car into Namibia. And the roads were not worth that kind of toll! Plus the prices for fuel in Namibia were high and included a fuel tax so was being charged double!

Benz | 5 mei 2013

Here in The Netherlands we pay not only road tax, but 59.3% of the price of each liter petrol goes to the government as well.

The current price of 1 liter petrol is 1.78 Euro. So, per liter petrol that is paid for by the consumer, an amount of 1.05554 goes to the government. That is a lot of money!!!

1 gallon = 3,78541178 liter

1 USD = 0,762544 Euro

FLsportscarenth... | 5 mei 2013


These are the factors that make Tesla popular and sell well (aside from being the best sedan on the market):

- High cost of fuel: (In the US - HI, CA and to some extent the NE), Canada, Europe and most of Asia.

- Incentives to buy: (CA, CO, and some other states), Norge and some in NL, this meaning no sales, VAT or import tax and rebates.

- Incentives to operate: (CA and some states) and UK, this meaning carpool use rights and congestion charge exemptions.

- High Income: (CA and to a certain extent NE US), (BC and ON in Canada), Northern Europe, CH, UK (somewhat), Japan, SG and AU/NZ

- Lack of Local competition: This explains Norge (NO), NL (Spyker is a different market) and CH being tops in Europe, no competing local brands to protect.

So the takeaway? The high CA sales make sense, HI should be robust for its small population. NO, NL, Monaco and Swiss (CH) makes the most sense in Europe... Singapore (SG) should sell well if the government puts incentives there (is logical as the population has the money for a MS and oil imports make SG vulnerable). TM needs to pay more attention to SG and promote the brand there it is a logical winner and no local brand to compete. In Asia Taiwan also makes a lot of sense, high income and no local brand.

One thing I do not understand is the UK, with the congestion charge exemption and ridiculous fuel costs, I am wondering why the Vauxhall Amperas are not flying off the shelves and reservations for MS are so few??? A rebate does apply there too. UK car manufacturing has been evicerated and 'British brands' are not even British anymore (Rover is Tata - Indian, Rolls Royce and Mini are BMW, Bentley is VW - German, Lotus is Proton - Malaysian; hmm its hallowed marques owned by a country that it beat in two world wars and former colonies!) so nothing left to 'protect'.

Benz | 5 mei 2013

California is a very important market for Tesla Motors, it's their home base. They have to do well there, and they do. So that is good. California is going to be the example for the rest of the world. It's in California that Tesla Motors is going to get a higher market share, before they do anywhere else in the world. Therefore I am specially interested in the sales figures of the Tesla Model S in California. And specially how fast the sales figures (per month) in California are going to rise. But Tesla Motors do not release sales figures per state/country. And I cannot find a way to somehow get hold of these figures.

FLsportscarenth... | 5 mei 2013

I think we all would like to know more about sale figures! Armchair corporate strategists like us are yearning for data to plot out Tesla's conquest of the world's automotive market! hehehe (practicing my evil laugh and petting my kitty like a Bond foe!)

I think the adoption rate will seriously pick up when more Model S are out there driving around saving people money (for a luxury sedan it is the best deal out there, most people just do not know about it) and proving that what a MS is capable of.

Brian H | 6 mei 2013

All the taxes and incentives are secondary; riding or driving plants a seed and a need to experience the MS-therapy again, and again, ...

FLsportscarenth... | 6 mei 2013


That reminds me of a owner who posted about his experience at a CA supercharger, a guy in a SUV asked him how much he had to pay to charge up, the guy in the SUV paid $150 and was shocked to find out that the Model S drive filled up for free...

I think that SUV driver will be looking at Tesla now, especially when Model X comes out...

Seeing them out on the road or in neighbours driveways sells even more.