Electric Vehicle Accessibility Index

Opinion: Iowa shouldn’t be last in access to electric vehicles

The tide is certainly rising for electric vehicles, but with misguided regulations handcuffing consumers, Iowans may end up watching from the shore line.

A major component of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill is adequately preparing the country for the electric vehicle, or EV, revolution. The Biden administration earmarked $174 billion for transportation electrification, sparking a flurry of investment from auto manufacturers.

GM announced it’ll be opening a $2.3 billion plant in 2023 to manufacture 500,000 EV batteries, Honda committed to sell only EVs by 2040, Hyundai will invest $7 billion for US EV production, and Ford announced that half of all Lincolns produced could soon be emissionless. Even here in Iowa, EV consumers can now charge their vehicles for free at the famous World’s Largest Truck Stop on Interstate Highway 80.

Unfortunately for Iowan consumers, poor policy at the state level has created a major hurdle. Iowa, which currently ranks tied for last in the US Electric Vehicle Accessibility Index produced by our organization, the Consumer Choice Center, is actively discouraging the purchase of EVs with a ban on direct-to-consumer sales and disproportionate registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Under the guise of consumer protection, Iowa made it illegal for electric vehicle manufacturers, like Tesla, to sell directly to consumers. Dealer franchise laws, which ban direct sales, are antiquated policies implemented to protect consumers from vertical integration and monopolization. With today’s digital economy and healthy competition within the auto industry, this restriction is far past its expiration date as it limits consumer choice while providing no consumer protection value.

That’s why many EV manufacturers have opted out of the dealership model entirely. Operating stand-alone dealerships increases costs and adds a middle-man into the sale process, often inflating prices for consumers. And, we know from the success of direct-to-consumer platforms in the used car market that online purchasing is on the rise.

Beyond the direct-sales ban, Iowa punishes EV consumers with higher registration fees. Consumers making the eco-conscious choice with EVs must currently pay the standard registration fee as well as an additional fee of $97.50, although that fee will increase to $130 on Jan. 1, 2022. This is incredibly discriminatory; a better approach would be to simply treat EVs on par with standard passenger vehicles.

Unfortunately, some legislators have justified the additional fee to help recover lost gas tax revenue. The purpose of the gas tax, currently at 32 cents per gallon in Iowa, is to encourage consumers to reduce their emissions. It’s unfortunate that the reward EV consumers get for their eco-friendly decision is inflated registration fees that shoulder more of the financial burden when they are in fact responding to the gas tax as intended.

These policy changes are easy to implement and have the benefit of encouraging EV purchases without taxpayer manufacturing subsidies or complicated tax credits, which have rightfully been criticized for favoring the wealthy.

The EV revolution is here, and by simply getting out of the way, legislators in Iowa could enhance consumer choice, lower costs, protect the environment, and do so without all of the logistical issues that come with corporate welfare and boutique tax credits.

As the famous idiom goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” The tide is certainly rising for electric vehicles, but with misguided regulations handcuffing consumers, Iowans may end up watching from the shore line.

Originally published here.

These are the 9 worst states to buy an electric car in

Unsurprisingly, EV accessibility is unevenly distributed across the country.

William Gibson’s quote about the future being here, just not very evenly distributed, is a cliché at this point. But I was reminded of it this morning when I saw a new report on electric vehicle accessibility. Compiled by the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), the report scores all 50 states based on how hard they make it to buy an EV, whether that’s banning direct-to-consumer sales or requiring extra registration fees or road charges. Unsurprisingly, the United States is a bit of a patchwork in this regard. But it’s not quite as simple as red states making it hard and blue states making it easy to buy an EV.

The top 10

Ten states score top marks with the CCC: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. All these states will allow direct sales of cars to individuals, and none will make you pay more to register your new EV than you’d pay for a new car with an internal combustion engine (ICE). (The District of Columbia would also go in this group if DC-based CCC had included it.)

California is conspicuous by its absence in that top 10. The state is the leading market for EVs within the US, with the highest adoption rate and the most public chargers. Nearly half of all US-registered EVs are on its roads. But California also has an escalating EV license fee that’s currently $100 but is now linked to the consumer price index.

Because it’s possible to register some gasoline-powered vehicles in California for less than $100, the state joins the “somewhat accessible” group, along with Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. Most of those states, like California, lost points because they have extra EV registration fees, but Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania all have some restrictions on automakers selling cars directly to the public.

The “barely accessible” states were Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. A few of these states prohibit direct auto sales but don’t charge more to register an EV than an ICE vehicle, others allow Tesla (but no other automaker) to sell direct to the public, and some do both.

The bottom 9

Finally, there are the inaccessible states: Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Each of these place plenty of roadblocks between their citizens and a new EV, banning any direct sales within their borders as well as making it more expensive to register an EV than an ICE vehicle.

In total, 28 states make it more expensive to register an EV, and 17 have completely banned Tesla and others from selling their cars straight to the public. Twelve other states have some restrictions on direct sales, including allowing Tesla (but no other automaker) to make them.

“It is clear that consumers want more access to electric vehicles. Therefore legislation should make the purchase and ownership of them as convenient as possible, and we urge legislators to put forth better policies that will reduce the significant barriers currently preventing consumers from fully accessing EVs,” said CCC’s North American affairs manager David Clement, co-author of the study.

Originally published here.

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