Academic study spotlights Miami as favorable city for electric vehicle adoption

by | Jan 4, 2024

A recently published academic study highlights Miami’s suitability for electric vehicles, citing economic and climatic advantages that could save residents up to $26,000.

In an era where urban centers grapple with environmental sustainability, Miami has emerged as a favorable city for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), according to an academic study published this week.

Utilizing a comprehensive total cost of ownership (TCO) model, the study examined various factors such as purchase price, financing, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and the costs of refueling and home charging for EVs. Due to its economic and climatic conditions, the study’s findings indicate Miami as an especially suitable environment for EVs.

The research highlights potential savings for Miami residents, estimating an average of $10,000, which could rise to $26,000 under certain conditions. The savings are attributed to Miami’s electricity costs and climate, which favor efficient EV operation and charging.

“EVs are more competitive in cities with high gasoline prices, low electricity prices, moderate climates, and direct purchase incentives, and for users with home charging access, time-of-use electricity pricing, and high annual mileage,” reads the publication’s findings.

The study further highlights the cost-efficiency of smaller, lower-range EVs over their gasoline counterparts. However, it concurrently points out that larger, long-range EVs bear a higher cost burden than gasoline vehicles.

In a recent interview with The Capitolist, former state lawmaker Jeff Brandes stated that while Florida’s road systems are ready for EVs, which are expected to make up 25 percent of new car sales by 2030, there are concerns regarding the adaptability of parking garages for an all-electric vehicle fleet. Charging infrastructure is another challenge, he said, as it is currently insufficient in Florida.

“Charging infrastructure is already lacking in Florida,” said Brandes. “In fact, I don’t know that any state has implemented, at scale, any of the charging research dollars that they have gotten from the federal government. But I think the simple truth is that electric vehicles are coming, they are the future, and Florida needs to prepare for them, and there needs to be a real strategy to deal with it.”

The state government’s stance on EVs appears to be a blend of support for the growing adoption, coupled with efforts to address the fiscal impacts of this shift.

On one hand, the Florida Department of Transportation has demonstrated support for electric vehicles through its Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan. This plan, which aligns with Federal Highway Administration guidance, aims to develop a statewide network of convenient and accessible EV charging infrastructure.

Conversely, there has been some political opposition to certain aspects of EV promotion. For instance, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a bill this year that would have made it easier for state officials to choose electric cars for government fleets.

Moreover, Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis has raised concerns about EVs, particularly in natural disasters like Hurricane Ian. In 2022, Patronis called on Elon Musk to take more proactive measures to mitigate risks related to battery fires, especially in the aftermath of flooding or storm surges, and urged partnership with the State of Florida to address potential hazards.

On the financial side, state economists have warned that an ongoing surge in EV use is poised to significantly undermine gasoline tax revenue, which provides funding for critical transportation-related projects and infrastructure.

Currently, Florida levies a gas tax of roughly 25 cents per gallon, appropriately collecting taxes based on how many miles each driver travels on state roadways. To predict fuel and tax statistics, economists often consider the “fleet miles per gallon,” wherein the “fleet” is all registered vehicles in the state. But with electric cars already putting pressure on the accuracy of the “fleet miles per gallon” formula, along with newer vehicles and their improved fuel economy metrics, better ideas are needed. In the coming years, Florida’s “fleet” will experience a massive improvement in “miles per gallon” performance, which will put a massive dent in fuel tax collections.

The problem isn’t just a Florida one. For years, American motorists have indirectly funded the maintenance of the roads they utilize through fuel taxes. The Congressional Budget Office in 2021 deduced that the static federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon isn’t going to keep up with the rate of inflation and the reduced collections due to EVs and more efficient cars in general. Given current trajectories, the federal Highway Trust Fund might face a $140 billion deficit by 2031.

But Florida’s situation is perhaps even more serious because, unlike the federal government, the Sunshine State can’t simply print more money, and the state has one of the nation’s higher gasoline taxes – in other words, Florida relies more heavily on gasoline taxes than other states – combined with the second-largest number of registered EVs.

Florida lawmakers are presently considering a proposal to introduce annual registration fees for electric vehicles to compensate for the expected decrease in gas tax revenue. The proposed fees, as outlined in Senate Bill 28, are $200 for EVs, $50 for plug-in hybrids, and $25 for electric motorcycles, with these amounts set to rise in 2029.


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