The solution to this problem is very complex, and as a result, there's no perfect remedy for both sides of the issue. However, prominent republicans in the Lone Star state appear to have their solution to the problem, fees with these proposed payments being used to help maintain roads just like existing gasoline taxes.
What Would EV Taxes Look Like?
First brought to our attention by a fan, Senate Bill 1728 is currently being debated by Texas lawmakers, and it would raise fees on EV owners in an attempt to make up for the losses from the gasoline tax. This fee increase would cover a multitude of angles and create an annual fee of $190 to $240 and slap an additional $150 fee for those that drive their electrified car more than 9000 miles a year. There's also an extra $10 for funding a charging system advisory council, but that's mere pocket change compared to some of the fore-mentioned fees.
Texas claims that the measure is necessary to promote "equalization for road use consumption for alternatively powered vehicles." but there's no doubt that lobbying by oil and gas firms is potentially playing a role with this bill. Texas is a significant oil producer and has traditionally been a stronghold for oil and gas companies. Texas claims that Senate Bill 1728 would apply to over 300,000 vehicles and would help the state collect $37.8 million for the State Highway Fund (SHF), which is the fund that covers all road and highway maintenance.
Texas Not Alone
While Texas is arguably one of the most high-profile states to attempt to pass such a fee, they're not the only ones that have either debated or passed similar measures. Illinois, for example, has a $250 per year license plate fee for EVs, while 19 other states have similar laws on the books.
As expected, SB 1728 is generating a potent amount of opposition with Tesla and other critics all speaking out against the proposed law. Tesla's voice, in particular, is essential since the EV company is building a giant Gigafactory in the state, and the new law would cover the vehicles produced by the facility.
Is There A Middle Ground?
With all the debate that SB1728 has generated, it makes you wonder if there's a middle ground solution? Prominent EV advocates like Plug-In America claim that instead of blanket laws that charge a fee for the sake of charging a fee, states should consider a Road USe Charge (RUC.) A key proponent of RUC is that EV owners pay based on the actual amount of miles they drive in their EV, with the vehicle's weight often being used as part of the calculations.
Seven states are currently testing out road usage charges with the help of the U.S. Department of Transportation. In comparison, 17 additional states in the western part of the country are part of "Road Use Charge West" with these states either having RUC policies in the books or pilot programs and research that ultimately aim to establish an RUC type of fee structure.
Photo Credit: Ford/General Motors
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. In addition to his specialization with Ford, he grew up in a General Motors household and is extensively familiar with their products too. Contact Carl on Twitter at @CarlMalek3, on Instagram and Facebook for automotive news to send news tips.