Texas state lawmakers are considering whether to impose large fees on people who own electric vehicles (EVs). Supporters of the idea say new fees on EVs are needed to replace the revenue from gasoline taxes that help pay for roads. But Consumer Reports finds that these proposals amount to little more than a punitive tax on people who choose to go electric, and this approach will not solve the long-standing road funding problems in Texas.
The Texas state House transportation committee recently held a hearing on possible EV fees, following last year’s state Senate bill that would have charged EV owners a registration fee of $200 to $250. That bill did not pass, but similar proposals are still under consideration in Austin.
Texas will eventually have to address the increased adoption of clean vehicle technology and the need to maintain a consistent funding source to support infrastructure improvement projects that benefit all residents in the future. However, at this early stage of EV use, bills such as these are not the solution. The focus should be on creating incentives for EV adoption, not putting up roadblocks like these proposed fees.
An analysis by Consumer Reports finds these kinds of fees unfairly penalize Texans who own electric vehicles:
- CR calculated that drivers of new gas-powered vehicles in Texas pay an average of $71 dollars in gas taxes each year. That’s significantly less than the annual fee of $200 or more that’s been proposed for EV owners.
- Flat fees, unlike gas taxes, do not charge people based on how much they use the roads and surrounding infrastructure. Every driver gets hit with the same fees, regardless of how much they drive. So, EV owners who typically take shorter drives would be facing a larger financial burden compared to those who use their vehicle for long-distance travel.
- Gas taxes are paid over the course of time with each trip to the pump, while EV registration fees are an up-front tax every year. The cost is especially burdensome for lower-income drivers faced with this large lump-sum payment annually.
Ultimately, these EV fees would do little to address the challenges of road funding in Texas. The fees would account for less than 0.3% of the state’s road maintenance fund by 2025, even if one assumes rapid growth in EV sales. Texas’s gas tax currently accounts for only 29% of the state’s road funding, and it hasn’t been adjusted in 30 years to keep pace with inflation and the improvements in vehicle mileage that allow drivers to make fewer trips to the pump. A shortfall in road funding can be traced back to these factors, not the limited number of people driving EVs on Texas roads.
“Cars are becoming more efficient, and the electric vehicle market is expanding. Texas and other states will have to develop new solutions for road funding that are fairly applied to all drivers. These solutions should be based upon the burdens that a vehicle places on the infrastructure, and they should be adjusted to keep pace with inflation over time, regardless of how efficient vehicles become in the future. A high, flat fee on electric vehicles may seem to some like a politically expedient solution, but it is not an effective or equitable one,” says Chris Harto, Senior Policy Analyst, Transportation and Energy at Consumer Reports.
CR also noted that, as governments seek to make these changes, they should consider the benefits of using a portion of the revenue collected from electric vehicles to expand the network of publicly available electric vehicle infrastructure within their state, such as a program in Washington state that has helped accelerate the adoption of clean vehicle technology.
Additional CR analysis of the problems with these kinds of fees for EVs is available here.
Contact: David Butler, firstname.lastname@example.org