Feb 8, 2023 - News

Georgia's EV regulations headed for change

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill stylized as an electric symbol.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Georgia's regulation and taxation of electric vehicles look to be headed for years of change, as it races to catch up to a fast-evolving transportation industry.

Driving the news: A joint study committee on the electrification of transportation wrapped last year, and its co-chair State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) says this legislative session will likely create "the beginning framework of what could be years of the evolution of the EV industry coming to Georgia."

Why it matters: As Georgia recruits electric vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, the Biden administration prioritizes the EV industry and consumers move away from the combustion engine, there's increasing pressure on the state's regulatory environment to match.

The big picture: Gov. Brian Kemp announced last month he wants Georgia to become the "electric mobility capital of America" in his second term.

Flashback: The state has attracted some of its biggest economic development projects ever from the e-mobility industry, including Rivian and Hyundai EV manufacturing plants. Georgia already had a strong automotive presence, notably through the massive KIA plant in West Point. (Hyundai is KIA's parent company.)

  • At a recent press conference alongside the governor, KIA America CEO SeungKyu (Sean) Yoon said the company "is focused on being a leader in sustainable mobility and a growing EV industry. Let there be no doubt that Georgia will be the strongest pillar in our exciting and successful story."

By the numbers: As of last September, more than 42,500 electric vehicles were registered in Georgia, according to the state.

State of play: Right now, Georgia has a high, flat registration fee on electric vehicles, at roughly $211 per vehicle. The state also doesn't standardize charging for electricity based on usage. Some are charged based on the time at the charger.

  • "It's not encouraging the market," Jennette Gayer, executive director of Environment Georgia told Axios, but rather "punishing EV drivers."
  • Additionally, the state currently has no way to ensure it doesn't lose an estimated $2-3 billion in annual revenue from its gas tax, as consumers move away from EVs.
Group of people in front of a KIA car
Gov. Brian Kemp (second from right) and KIA America CEO SeungKyu (Sean) Yoon (right) at "KIA Day" at the Georgia Capitol in January with the company's new EV6. Photo: Courtesy of Governor's office

Zoom in: Gooch tells Axios they're planning to launch a pilot program with the Georgia Department of Transportation to collect the data need to craft a fee or tax structure that aligns fairly with what people — in and out of state — pay now for a gas tax.

Of note: Kemp told reporters last week that he's not publicly endorsing any specific policies yet and that it's a "complicated process."

  • "Our goal is to keep everybody at the table, have good collaboration and figure out a way to make this happen," he said.

What's next: Gayer says there's much more to be done as well, from ensuring equity in the distribution of charging infrastructure to opening up the market for direct-to-consumer electric vehicle sales.

  • In the short term, she said she wishes lowering the high registration fee was at the top of the priority list. "We should be doing everything we can to increase the number of EVs on the road in Georgia," she said.
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