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What are the benefits of an electric vehicle in Arkansas?

As gas prices continue to skyrocket around the country, some Arkansans might be considering the switch to an electric vehicle.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — You've probably noticed all of the commercials for electric vehicles (EV).

The electric vehicle community is something that's taking shape here in the Natural State. 

For some, a Tesla is probably the car that comes to mind when you're thinking of an EV, and it's probably due to the environmental benefits.

Electric vehicles are known to be better for the environment, with The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stating that electric vehicles leave less of a carbon footprint.

In Arkansas, like many other states, there's an entire community of EV owners. 

One of those owners is Matthew Clanton, who shared more information on the economic impacts that the cars can have for many Arkansans. 

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Believe it or not, Clanton hasn't owned an EV for all that long.

"I just hit about a year right before Christmas. It went by so quick. I've already put over 20,000 miles on the car in just a year," Clanton said.

He made the switch to a battery-powered vehicle largely in part because of the long-term financial impacts.

"I knew that filling a car with electricity, with Arkansas' electricity, it's a lot cheaper than filling it with gas," Clanton adds.

While most of us are feeling the impact of increasing gas prices, that's actually not the case for car owners like Clanton.

"I think it would have been about $250 for the last month of gas and I've spent about $65," Clanton said.

That's ultimately the biggest benefit that he's seen so far-- the money that he's keeping in his wallet.

As a busy family man, one of the stops he makes on a weekly basis is Franklin's Charging in Little Rock.

Jeff Franklin is one of the charging company's managing members.

"We've probably had upwards of 20 vehicles on site over the past 3-weeks," Franklin said.

His charging station is quite actually quite new-- it's not even 2-years old yet.

"We broke ground, Dec. 11th 2020," he said.

Franklin's Charging is one of over 200 places that's spread out across Arkansas, offering recharges before drivers hit the road again.

That number is likely to see an increase soon though.

Earlier in February, President Joe Biden announced a $7.5 billion infrastructure plan that will fund electric vehicles across the country.

Arkansas will receive $54 million over the next 5-years to fund more charging stations. 

But, for many people there's usually a big question when it comes EVs: how long does a recharge take compared to filling up a gas tank?

Well, that actually depends mainly on the battery in your vehicle.

Charging could take anywhere from 30-minutes to half a day, but definitely longer than the few minutes you could normally spend at the pump.

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"Until an electric vehicle gets to the point where they can charge as fast as it takes a normal car to fill up at a gas station, there's always going to be that need and the desire for a gas powered vehicle," Mike Preston, Secretary of Commerce said.

But, this goes beyond just time, there's also money involved too.

Each time you stop to fill your vehicle up with gas, you pay into Arkansas' motor fuel tax.

That money helps fund road infrastructure projects.

Electric vehicles don't use gas, but Preston said they're still helping to cover those costs, just in other ways.

"Obviously, [electric vehicles] use our roads and have the same wear and tear on the roads as a gas powered vehicle, so the only way to offset that was through the registration fees," Preston said.

In Arkansas, all electric vehicle owners must pay $200 in annual registration fees, while hybrid vehicles pay $50.

These registration fees go to state and highway department funds.

Despite that, owners like Clanton believe that their EVs are still worth the added cost.

"Still saving a lot of money with fuel, which is great, but it is kind of frustrating that we're overcharged for our contribution to the road tax," Clanton said. "The convenience, the quietness for a daily car, I think it's just nothing like it."

Clanton said he saved nearly $200 last month since he avoids the gas station.

Still, EV owners are paying between $50 -$100 more in annual registration fees to make up for the money not being paid at the pump.

That's something Clanton said he hopes state legislators will change.

Unlike other states, Arkansas is among those that don't have incentives for electric vehicle owners. 

Nationally, all electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles made after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax of up to $7,500. 

RELATED: No, electric cars are not worse for the environment than gas-powered cars

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