States are increasingly turning to electric cars for improved air quality and lower costs, but the ways those states are promoting EV use and adoption vary dramatically.
That's according to a report released this week by the National Governors Association after it conducted workshops across the U.S. and studied how states are using and, in some cases, promoting EV adoption.
The report was based from four workshops held between November 2018 and April 2019, and with input from 40 states governors' offices, state agencies and other departments. Businesses, nonprofits, academia, and other organizations contributed to the report as well.
Although the report doesn't make specific recommendations to bolster EV adoption among public and private sectors, it outlines several states that have been effective in boosting overall EV adoption. Unsurprisingly, California, Washington, and Oregon have the largest EV adoption rate among all states, at 7.84%, 4.28%, and 3.41% of market share in 2018, respectively. The national average for EV adoption hovered at about 2% for 2018.
The report detailed how state agencies could lead the way for more EVs on roadways through electrification of state fleets, which it said was a "largely untapped opportunity."
"These efforts can help states lower costs, increase visibility of vehicles, and encourage manufacturers to provide a greater inventory of EVs in a state," the authors of the report wrote.
Blue Bird electric school buses
The report cited examples in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Washington, where states have used settlement from VW's diesel scandal to electrify buses, shuttles, ferries, and public transportation.
In fact, the VW settlement reached in 2016 that penalized the automaker billions for lying about its diesel emissions figured heavily into states' plans. Of the $14.7 billion settlement, $2.7 billion was dedicated to environmental remediation and mitigation in a trust to be divided among the states. Money from the fund can be used for clean-air programs, and up to 15 percent of the funds dedicated to each state can be used for charging infrastructure.
According to the report, 35 states plan on using the full 15 percent allotment for charging infrastructure, while many other states are using the remainder to electrify fleets and transit systems.
The report also detailed efforts in New York, Vermont, and Maryland to incentivize EV state fleet purchases with mandated requirements or vouchers for $20,000 to $60,000 per vehicle for applicable vehicles, outside of VW settlement money.
EVgo curbside DC fast chargers at Southside Park, Sacramento, California [CREDIT: EVgo]
But how the states handle taxes, charging, and infrastructure for EVs continues to be vastly different from state to state. The report notes that 28 states now have a fee for EV registrations to recoup some or all (or more than) lost gas taxes, although those fees can vary wildly from $50 in Hawaii and Colorado to more than $200 in Washington, Georgia, Alabama, and Wyoming.
Some states have left public chargers to private business only, while others have installed public chargers at various locations and still other states have created "make-ready" opportunities for charging stations that handle much of the costs "behind the meter" for infrastructure.
The report covers familiar ground for many EV fans and offers few ideas for promoting wider adoption. Notably, it suggests that better dealer training could result in more EV sales and states that California residents identified fewer EV models in 2017 than in 2014, despite a near doubling of available EVs in that state. To combat that, some states such as Connecticut have offered dealership incentives to sell EVs, up to $300 per car sold.
In short: There's more EVs on the streets, but states still have a long road ahead.