It may be surprising to many Oklahomans that one of the biggest growth areas for the state’s economy is in the electric vehicle industry. That growth could be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to transportation funding.
This new dynamic will create a number of changes for the state’s economy, including tax revenue for the state that is paid at the pump. For this reason, Gov. Kevin Stitt has recently signed legislation to address how the future growth of electric vehicles will impact the state’s transportation infrastructure funding.
The good news is that Oklahoma Department of Commerce Director Brent Kisling spoke to Enid Rotary last Monday about how the growth in the electric vehicle industry could help diversify Oklahoma’s economy.
According to Kisling, $15 billion of auto manufacturing projects are looking at Oklahoma right now. Most are looking to build electric vehicles. Our state got an indication last year that it could be a good home for the electric vehicle industry when Tulsa was named a finalist for a Tesla plant.
Tesla eventually chose Austin, Texas — however, Oklahoma is well-positioned for electric vehicle growth, Kisling said. Oklahoma is currently No 2. in the nation in the electric vehicle grid. According to Kisling, you can’t drive more than 50 miles in Oklahoma without getting to an electric vehicle charging station.
The emergence of electric and hybrid vehicle availability could dramatically reduce the current fuel tax revenues the state depends on to construct and maintain roads and bridges. The recent legislation signed by Stitt creates a task force to assess how to properly fund the state’s transportation needs in this emerging environment.
Being proactive at this stage and coming up with a plan to address long-term transportation needs is the proper thing to do.