AUSTIN (KXAN) — As more drivers here in Austin and beyond embrace greener technology, the state of Texas just cleared a major electric vehicle milestone.
More than 200,000 electric vehicles are now registered in Texas, according to data compiled by Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities. Of total EVs registered, the Dallas-Fort Worth metro accounts for the highest percentage, with 36.7%. Houston comes in second, accounting for 24.07% of EVs statewide, with Austin rounding out the Top 3 with 20.1% of registered EVs residing in the state capital.
“It’s tremendous growth,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance. Since last year, Smith said EV registrations had climbed 64%, with more than 72,000 EVs added to the state’s vehicle registry.
Smith credited increased variety and lower costs of EVs on the market as contributing factors to the bump, paired with state and federal efforts to expand EV charging infrastructure.
In Texas, a significant proportion of chargers are headquartered in the state’s major metropolitan areas like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, Smith said. However, new federal efforts are working to accelerate the number of fast chargers located both in the Lone Star State and across the country.
Back in February, President Joe Biden’s administration announced plans to expand the country’s EV charging network, with a goal of 500,000 charging stations available nationally.
“Our goal is to make sure you can get to grandma’s house on Thanksgiving in an electric vehicle without wondering if you’re going to have enough energy to make it,” Smith said.
New Texas legislation addresses charging technology, driver fees to be incurred
With the growing prevalence of EV technology, Texas’ state leaders passed new measures in the latest legislative session to collect fees from EV drivers since they will not be paying the state’s gas tax.
Last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law new legislation establishing a $400 fee to register an electric vehicle in Texas, alongside a $200 annual fee. That comes in addition to the state’s annual vehicle registration fees, which amounts to $50.75 for most passenger vehicles and trucks.
A data review from Consumer Reports found the average Texas driver only pays about $71 per year in state fuel taxes.
While Smith said he isn’t a fan of that new registration fee and annual charge signed by Abbott, he did support new laws passed related to EV technology. One pertains to charging station inspections, while another will increase the transparency of charging costs when people show up at a public station, similar to when a gas-powered vehicle owner pulls up to a pump.
What are some tips for new EV drivers when it comes to charging in the summertime?
With more EVs registered in Texas comes more first-time EV drivers who might not have navigated a Texas summer in an electric vehicle before. Smith said it’s critical EV owners charge their cars at night to not overwhelm the state’s electric grid system during peak demand hours.
He added extreme summer heat significantly reduces the amount of miles EVs get per charge due to stresses from the heat and the amount of energy it takes to run air conditioning. He said EV drivers would need to be proactive and build those extra charging re-ups as part of their summer routines.