In Texas, electric vehicle drivers will soon be paying more to get on the road. Those who went green by switching to battery-powered electric vehicles, will have to spend more green in the form of a yearly fee.
Houstonian Kevin Douglass loves electric vehicles so much, he drove his old one all the way to Florida to trade it in for a new Tesla.
"I did a conversion of a 1977 Honda Accord, which was the car I got my driver's license in back in 2006. I changed it from gas to electric," Douglass said.
Safe to say, he's an early adopter, and enthusiastic for EVs. But he's wondering about how fair a new Texas road tax on electric vehicles will be.
"Right now, electric vehicles are having to pay more money than an equivalent gas car for road maintenance," Douglass said.
On Sept. 1, Texas will be among 33 states that bill EV drivers every year. Texans will have to pony up $200 a year.
The rationale at the Texas legislature: Electric vehicle drivers don't use gasoline, which is taxed. Those taxes help fund the state's road maintenance programs.
"Seventy-six percent of all the electric vehicle drivers we surveyed said they thought they should pay their fair share for the use of the roads," said Tom Smith of the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance.
Smith advocates for more EVs in Texas. He says the fee rate is arbitrary, but believes that people ought to pay for using the roads. "We think $200 is too high."
"It costs about a third of what it costs to fuel a gas-electric car, and the maintenance is around 40% of what it would be to maintain a gas car," he added.
New owners will have to pay two years up front when they purchase their EV, a total of $400.
"A vast majority of sales for us in EVs right now are in that high dollar price range," said Steven Wolf, general manager of Helfman Dodge in Houston, Texas. "So I don't think a $200 additional title on registration fee is going to be any kind of impediment to someone from buying the vehicle."
Wolf says the average EV buyer won't have a problem paying the fee.
"These electric cars are heavy and that's going to cause excess wear and tear in our roads and our bridges. So I think it's something we need to look at," he said.
Various Texas agencies including the state's Department of Transportation issued a report claiming the state lost an average of $200 per electric vehicle on the road. Currently, advocates believe there are only 217,000 electric cars on Texas roads. They expect to hit the million mark before the end of the decade.
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