Texas Joins Other States In Charging EV Owners To Use Its Roads

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For over a century, drivers of traditional cars and trucks have been shouldering state and federal excise taxes linked to gasoline and diesel. These taxes, seamlessly included in every gallon of fuel purchased, contribute to the Highway Trust Fund, supporting road development and public transit systems. But in the world of electric vehicles (EVs), the road seems a bit less traveled.

The Transition:
Across most states, a shift is underway. Legislation is taking the wheel, introducing fees and taxes designed to target EV drivers. A total of 33 states have already rolled out charges, aiming at those who haven’t been contributing to the Highway Trust Fund while cruising on public roads. And joining the ranks next month is the Lone Star State itself: Texas.

The Change in Texas:
Scheduled for September 1, Senate Bill 505 recently passed, signaling a change for EV owners in Texas. The new law will enforce a $200 annual fee bundled with auto registration, which currently stands at $50.75. New vehicle buyers are looking at a higher fee, $400, as a two-year upfront payment is required. The mind behind the bill, Republican state Sen. Robert Nichols, underlines the growing concern regarding EVs and their contribution to road funding.

Mixed Emotions:
This legislation hasn’t cruised by without raising eyebrows. With substantial tax breaks and incentives still in play (such as potential $7,500 credits under Internal Revenue Code Section 30D for qualified EV purchases), there’s a contradiction in approach. Karl Brauer, an executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, puts it succinctly: Incentivizing EVs and then hitting EV owners with increased taxes feels like driving in reverse.

Weighty Matters:
A weighty argument is at play as well. Paul Brian, a respected automotive expert, points out that EVs carry more heft compared to their combustion counterparts. This additional weight takes a toll on road infrastructure. Brian emphasizes that EV owners may not fully grasp the impact of their rides on roads. The tax-focused politician sees an opportunity, and Brian believes these owners might be overlooking the reality.

A Broader Perspective:
Lauren Fix, a renowned automotive expert, paints a bigger picture. She anticipates the EV fees to be the tip of the iceberg, indicating a broader trend targeting all drivers. Fix envisions a future with mileage-based fees and road user charges that will affect everyone’s wallet. The result? More toll roads cropping up, transforming highways and streets into toll lanes. The burden, Fix contends, will fall heavily on service workers and various professionals.

As Texas shifts gears to join other states in taxing emission-free vehicles, the underlying message reverberates. While these fees aim to enhance infrastructure and public transit, the impact will be felt by all motorists—both those behind the wheel of traditional gas guzzlers and the eco-conscious electric owners. The road ahead holds changes for everyone, steering us toward a new driving landscape.

Read More: How Many Electric Cars are in the US? – WrEVs

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