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EV News & Notes: Texas lawmakers will have big decisions to make

EV News & Notes: Texas lawmakers will have big decisions to make

Construction has started on the Tesla Cybertruck factory in Austin as evidenced by this drone shot. Investing the money for the factory, which will be powered by Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, could shift the tide on direct sales for Tesla. Photo by Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative

 

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By NICHOLAS SAKELARIS | CoServ

Electric vehicles could be a hot topic when the Texas Legislature reconvenes next year.

Likely to surface is the longstanding argument by some that electric vehicles don’t pay their fair share for the roads.

In Texas, most of the funding for road construction, maintenance and expansion comes from gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees. Electric vehicles don’t use gasoline, so what should lawmakers do to make up for an expected shortfall in the coming years, as EV sales continue to ramp up?

Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, has filed a bill that would tack on an additional $200 registration fee for fully electric vehicles. Hybrid vehicles would pay an additional $100, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Most states already have similar fees for EVs. In some states, the fees are much higher than they would be if they drove regular internal combustion engine vehicles, according to an analysis by Consumer Reports.

Gas tax collections in Texas are down 7 percent for the 2020 fiscal year, which ended in August. That’s mostly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s also emblematic of a trend of better fuel economy and, to a lesser extent, more hybrids and full EVs on the road.

Similar bills have been filed in previous legislative sessions, but they didn’t pass thanks to strong lobbying by pro-EV groups.

Speaking of lobbying, Tesla will likely have a long list of things it wants to accomplish in Texas, including the right to sell its vehicles directly to the public.

They’ll probably also fight Rep. King’s bill. Tesla has tried and failed four times to carve out an exception – or an outright repeal of – Texas law that currently does not allow the direct sale of their vehicles. The Texas Automobile Dealers Association has lobbied strenuously against changing the state’s strong franchise dealership laws for nearly a decade.

Tesla has more ground to stand on this time because it is constructing a factory that will manufacture Cybertrucks in Austin. (Electric co-op shoutout: Bluebonnet Electric will serve the facility with reliable cooperative power.) This article from Teslarati points out that Tesla would have to ship the Cybertrucks out of state before delivering them to buyers in Texas because of these franchise dealer laws.

This time, Tesla won’t be fighting alone.

Tesla, Lucid and Rivian have partnered with TXU Energy’s parent company, Vistra, and other large electric companies around the country to form a lobbying group called the Zero Emission Transportation Association [ZETA], Electrek reported.

ZETA will lobby at the federal level to speed up the transition to 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030.   

In its coverage, the Houston Chronicle calls the potential shift to electric vehicles an “industry-changing opportunity” for utilities because they would supply the power for transportation, effectively becoming the gas stations of the 21st century.

In addition to Vistra, PG&E Corp., Edison International, Duke Energy and Consolidated Edison are involved. Companies like Uber, Siemens and Piedmont Lithium are also involved.

Stay tuned for next Friday’s EV News & Notes.

 

 

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