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EVs Are a Tough Sell in Texas. Here’s Why.

A new survey found that only about 5 percent of Texans currently drive an electric vehicle and, of those who don’t currently own or lease an EV, about 60 percent said they probably wouldn’t consider one in the future either.

Texans don't much care for electric vehicles, a new survey finds, and that's unlikely to change until sale prices come down and more charging stations go up.

Only about 5 percent of Texans currently drive an EV, according to a statewide poll by the University of Houston and Texas Southern University — down from 8 percent two years earlier — and the results don't suggest EV dealers should be looking for a quick increase. Of the 95 percent who don't currently own or lease an electric-powered vehicle, about 60 percent said they probably wouldn't consider one in the future, either.

"With such a small percentage of Texans currently owning electric vehicles, it looks like Texans will hold tight to their gas engines for the foreseeable future," the universities said in a statement. Researchers added that government incentives, including federal tax credits for the purchase of qualifying electric vehicles "have yet to make a difference" in Texas.

The biggest reason for disinterest in EVs, given by 46 percent of those surveyed, was the scarcity of charging stations and concerns about the vehicles' range. While the latest data show there are about 3,000 charging stations for electric vehicles statewide, the majority of those are in the state's major metro areas. That raises concerns for those who traverse the state's wide-open spaces, which largely lack charging facilities.

That could be changing, though, with the allocation of $400 million from the federal government to establish a statewide charging network. Until that's built, manufacturers giving their EVs longer driving range could increase Texans' interest.

"The most influential factor proved to be EVs' driving range on a single charge," researchers said, calling it the "key factor."

After charging scarcity, more than 38 percent of respondents said their main holdback is higher purchase prices for electric vehicles compared to those for gasoline-powered cars and trucks, and nearly 36 percent cited being unable to charge an EV at home.

If driving distances were longer on an EV's single charge than with a full tank in a gas-powered vehicle, and purchase prices were more in line, the survey found, more Texans would go electric.

Demographic differences also played a role.

"We found acceptance levels of electric cars tend to differ according to respondents' ethnicity, income, political affiliation and generation," said Pablo Pinto, director of the Center for Public Policy and distinguished professor at the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

Just over one-quarter of white respondents voiced a likelihood of having an EV in the future, but well more than half of Asian-American and more than one-third of both Hispanic and Black respondents expressed interest in someday purchasing or leasing an EV.

The highest-income earners had the greatest level of interest, with nearly 40 percent of respondents with an annual family income exceeding $80,000 likely to consider an EV. By comparison, a little more than a fifth of lower-income households reported interest in ever owning or leasing an electric vehicle.

The survey of 1,914 Texans 18 or older was conducted Oct. 6-18 in English and Spanish. The universities said it has a weighted confidence interval of plus or minus 2.9.

(c)2023 the San Antonio Express-News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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