What a 45-cent Michigan gas tax would cost you annually

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's state budget proposes an additional 45 cents-per-gallon gas tax to fix Michigan roads, which would make the state's fees the highest in the nation. So how big a hole would that put in your wallet?

Depending on what you drive and how far you drive, it would vary. But for a driver in an average vehicle racking up the average number of miles per year, there's an answer: an additional $255 annually.

The Detroit News calculated the annual cost for owners of a variety of vehicles, from that hypothetical average car, to popular SUVs, pickups and electrics.

Michiganians drive an average of 14,121 miles per year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The average vehicle fuel economy for 2017 model-year vehicles was 24.9 miles per gallon, according to Environmental Protection Agency figures released Wednesday.

Do the math, and a 45-cent surcharge would add up to that $255 per year. That's on top of the average current fuel bill of $1,389, assuming gasoline stays at the current $2.45 per gallon average price around the state.

Think you're off the hook if you drive a battery-powered vehicle? Think again.

2019 Ford F-150 Limited

Under Gov. Rick Snyder's tax plan of 2015, a byzantine formula cooked up by the state made sure electric cars didn't escape paying their fair share to fix the roads. We'll spare you the details, other than this: The annual fee for a hybrid-electric would jump from $47.50 to $160 under the Whitmer plan; for a pure EV, that fee would jump from $135 to $360. 

Here's the additional cost that would be incurred by drivers of five popular models. (All calculations assume they will be driven the average 14,121 miles per year.)

The best-selling vehicle in Michigan – the 27-mile-per-gallon all-wheel drive 1.5-liter Chevy Equinox – currently costs $1,281 annually to fuel up. The new gas tax would add $235 a year. Take the family to from Detroit to Mackinac Island to ride the horse-drawn carriages (unaffected by the gas hike), and your gas bill would rise by $4.80 to $30.47.

If you own the best-selling pickup in the land – the 19 mpg Ford F-150 with its popular 3.5-liter Ecoboost V-6 – you're currently shelling our $1,820 at the pump annually.  With the new tax, you'd need to carry another $334 in your jeans.

Not even EVs will escape the gas tax. The Chevy Bolt EV, in order to pay its fair share to road maintenance, would see its annual registration fee jump from $135 to $360.

Drive a diesel? You'd pay the same 45-cent per gallon surcharge. That means a 22 mpg 2018 Ram 1500 turbo V-6 would cost $289 more to operate a year over the current $1,957 you'd pay if diesel fuel stayed steady at $3.05 per gallon.

For the 52 mpg Toyota Prius, the perennial best-selling hybrid car, the new gas tax would hit twice – on fuel (a $122 annual increase) and registration fee (a $112.50 increase) for a total of $234.50. That's on top of the $712.50 combined cost of fuel ($665) and registration fee ($47.50) paid today.

The Chevy Bolt EV, of course, never visits a gas pump. Charge it at home at DTE Energy's regular residential rate of 15 cents per kWh and it'll cost you an unchanged $593 on your electric bill (install an additional, 240-volt fast charger and dedicated electric meter,  and the utility will reduce that to $431 a year). The added registration fee, as we noted earlier, would jump from $135 to $360.

In return for better roads, some studies suggest Michigan residents will get back their tax levy in lower repair costs. AAA estimates the average pothole repair to be $300, while TRIP - an advocacy group funded by transportation interests, estimates annual repair costs for road-related repairs to be $646 per motorist.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.