Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 505, which will charge Texans an additional fee of US$400 for the registration of a new electric vehicle (EV) and an additional US$200 fee for annual EV registration renewals. For context, the annual registration fee for vehicles in Texas is currently US$50.75. Therefore, new EV owners can expect to pay US$450.75 to register their car, and US$250.75 every year thereafter — nearly five times the fee gas-powered car owners are paying. The act will go into effect on September 1, 2023.
According to the Texas Legislature, the fees will go toward the state highway fund. Under SB 505, autocycles, mopeds, motorcycles, and neighborhood EVs are spared the additional charge. The additional fee pertains specifically to EVs defined as “a motor vehicle that has a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less and uses electricity as its only source of motor power.”
The passing of SB 505 is painfully ironic considering Governor Abbott gave a lengthy speech at the groundbreaking ceremony for Tesla’s lithium refinery in Corpus Christ just two weeks ago on May 8. The refinery will help Tesla produce batteries for 1 million vehicles per year, securing a domestic supply chain for America’s largest EV maker. Tesla plans to spend around US$365 million on the plant. Construction is expected to be complete next year, with lithium production expected to begin in 2025, an incredibly fast timeline considering the complexity of the project.
In hindsight, maybe Abbott’s support for the lithium plant had nothing to do with job creation and everything to do with getting more EVs on the road, charging exorbitant fees, and flooding the legislature’s coffers to fuel crony capitalism.