Electric vehicles make up a small percentage of cars on South Carolina highways, but experts predict that will change as the nation transitions away from gas-powered vehicles.
About four percent of registered passenger vehicles in South Carolina are electric, but that number is expected to rise dramatically in coming years.
With that rise, lawmakers and transportation officials acknowledge the state’s infrastructure will have to be upgraded to accommodate electric vehicle requirements. The financing of state highways will have to be examined as well since South Carolina roads are paid through gasoline taxes.
“As more vehicles are transitioning from fossil fuels to electric, there will have to be changes,” state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley.
The passage of President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation will clear a path for state’s to determine highway, bridge and urban planning projects that would be most beneficial to the population. That would likely include more charging stations along interstate highways to accommodate electric vehicles.
Columbia resident Andrew McClam, who drives a Tesla, said his top reason for buying the vehicle wasn’t the energy savings that spur others to make the switch from gasoline-powered vehicles.
“Coolest car I’ve ever seen, a total dream car,” McClam said. “It wasn’t as much the electric factor as it was, it is fast, zero to 60 in three seconds. It’s a lot of fun to drive.”
Still, he has reaped the benefits of going electric. He said his decision has been re-affirmed by rising gas prices he’s seen featured on station signs.
“It has been awesome, especially with everybody complaining about gas prices,” McClam said. “I just get to zip around and drive right past them and if there’s another gas shortage, I’m good.”
He said the impact on his electric bill has been minimal.
“It hasn’t really affected our electric bill, I’ve got a plug in the back of the house that we just plug in,” McClam said. “I really haven’t noticed much of a change maybe five-ten bucks extra, very cheap.”
Grooms says rising gas prices could push more people to make the same decision that McClam did.
“I’ve got no doubt when you’re paying three dollars or more at the pump if someone was making a decision as to what type of vehicle to buy,” Grooms said. “An electric vehicle makes more sense at three dollars a gallon than it does at a buck and quarter a gallon.”
Despite those gas prices, Grooms said he knows people who have made the switch back to gas-powered vehicles due to charging inconveniences with their electric vehicles.
“I personally know someone – a former legislator –she was very happy eight years ago when she bought an electric vehicle and eight years has passed and all the batteries need to be replaced,” Grooms said. “That left a really bad taste in her mouth so now she’s shopping for a gasoline-powered vehicle.”
As the nation’s automakers move to manufacturing hybrid and electric vehicles, Grooms said he believes “the electric car is here to stay.”
The passage of President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation will also clear a path for state’s to determine highway, bridge and urban planning projects that would be most beneficial to the population. That would include more charging stations along interstate highways to accommodate electric vehicles.
McClam says he’s made up his mind where he stands on the question.
“So I think electric for life and Tesla probably for life as well,” said McClam.