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.