US state hosting Tesla’s Cybertruck factory targets EV owners with higher fees

Texas may have welcomed Tesla warmly with its support for the electric car maker’s Gigafactory TX project, but the state, or at least some of its officials, still seem to operate under the premise that EV adoption is something that could be stopped. This was highlighted recently by Rep. Ken King, a Panhandle Republican who wishes to add fees imposed on electric vehicle drivers in the state. 

Under King’s proposal, electric car owners would be hit with an additional $200 registration and annual renewal fee to help shore up the state’s road funds, which rely on gas taxes. King’s proposal also penalizes owners of hybrid vehicles, though not as much, with the representative suggesting an additional $100 for registrations and renewals. 

As noted in a report from the Houston Chronicle, revenue from the proposed additional EV registration and renewal fees would be going to the state highway fund. The Texas Comptroller has reported about $14.2 billion in revenue during 2019, and estimates suggest that 2020 revenues would be at around $14.6 billion. 

Drivers of gas-powered vehicles in Texas pay a state tax of $0.20 per gallon, which is used to support the highway fund. As vehicles became more efficient and amidst the emergence of electric cars and hybrids, however, the state’s annual gas tax revenues have flattened and even declined. During the fiscal year 2020, Texas collected $2.6 billion in gas tax revenue. That’s about 7% less than the $2.8 billion collected in the fiscal year 2019. 

King is not only aiming for higher EV registrations and renewals, either. This week, he also introduced a bill that would add a $0.01 tax to every kWh of energy generated by wind, solar, coal, and nuclear power. Interestingly enough, power generated from natural gas sources would be exempt under King’s bill. 

If the Texas representative’s efforts prove successful, car buyers in the state may very well be disenchanted to purchase all-electric vehicles, especially considering that one of the most notable advantages of EVs is their affordable operating costs. By imposing higher fees on electric cars, the state would give the impression that it is more financially sound for consumers to go for gas guzzlers instead. 

In several other states where EVs are targeted with extra fees, the additional charges could climb so high that electric car owners can end up paying more than what they would have paid in gas taxes had they owned fossil fuel-powered cars instead. Consumer Reports noted that in some cases, EV owners end up paying up to four times more than what they would have paid in gas taxes. 

Overall, the proposal from the TX official is unfortunate, especially considering that Tesla is building its roots in the state. Gigafactory Texas is poised to be the electric car maker’s most impressive vehicle production facility yet, and it would build what could very well be the defining EV of the post-Tesla Model S era. The Cybertruck is a unique all-American vehicle that will be made in Texas, after all, so it would be pretty nonsensical if the vehicle ends up costing its buyers more in registration and renewal fees just because it doesn’t pollute the air.