by the numbers

New report reveals EV adoption in Texas remains low

In the latest installment of the Texas Trends survey, only 5.1 percent of Texans currently drive an electric-powered car, truck, or SUV. Photo via Getty Images

Interest in electric vehicles remains low in Texas, according to a recent report by University of Houston and Texas Southern University.

In the latest installment of the Texas Trends survey, only 5.1 percent of Texans currently drive an electric-powered car, truck, or SUV. Nearly 60 percent said they were not too likely or not at all likely to consider leasing or purchasing an electric vehicle in the future.

Respondents said that the largest factor in not opting for an EV was scarcity of charging stations. Other holdbacks included higher purchase prices, and not being able to charge an EV at home.

Acceptance of EVs did vary by respondents’ ethnicity, income, political affiliation and age:

-Asian-American respondents expressed the most interest (57 percent of respondents) in someday purchasing or leasing an EV.

-Those in the highest earning bracket voiced the highest interest in owning or leasing an EV one day. About 40% of those with an annual family income exceeding $80,000 said they'd consider an EV

-About 70% of Republicans and more than 60% of independents said they were not likely to ever buy or lease an EV

The researchers also posed an analysis to test if respondents would be more willing to purchase or lease an EV with lower purchasing prices, lower operating costs and decreased charging times. The factor that seemed to sway respondents most was length/duration of driving range on a single charge.

"If driving distances were longer on an EV’s single charge than with a full tank in a gas-powered vehicle–along with hypothetical situations lowered purchase prices, lowered operating costs and decreased charging times–respondents indicated they would go electric," according to a release from UH.

The EV portion of the report is the latest installment in the Texas Trends survey, a five-year project to study the state’s changing population and opinions, which was launched in 2021.

Other portions of the study focused on state propositions, school vouchers, primary elections, the summer heat wave and climate change.

The survey was conducted between Oct. 6 and Oct. 18 in English and Spanish for 1,914 respondents.

According to the report, 51 percent of Texans believe climate change significantly impacts extreme weather events. About 47 percent of those who acknowledge the impact of climate change on weather are likely to consider buying an electric vehicle.

About three-quarters (75.8 percent) of Texans describe the summer of 2023 as hotter than previous summers.

Meanwhile, the City of Houston has been working to accelerate EV adoption in the area.

Evolve Houston, founded through Houston's Climate Action Plan, awarded its inaugural eMobility Microgrant Initiative this summer to 13 groups, neighborhoods and an individual working to make electric vehicles accessible to all Houstonians.

The city also approved $281,000 funding for the expansion of free electric vehicle rideshare services in communities that are considered underserved by utilizing services like RYDE and Evolve Houston. Click here to read more.

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A View From HETI

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want. Photo courtesy of Boxes

With the help of a new conversational artificial intelligence platform, a Houston startup is ready to let brands get up close and personal with consumers while minimizing waste.

IBM and Boxes recently partnered to integrate the IBM watsonx Assistant into Boxes devices, providing a way for consumer packaged brands to find out more than ever about what its customers like and want.

The Boxes device, about the size of a 40-inch television screen, dispenses products to consumers in a modern and sustainable spin on the old-fashioned large vending machine.

CEO Fernando Machin Gojdycz learned that business from his entrepreneur father, Carlos Daniel Machin, while growing up in Uruguay.

“That’s where my passion comes from — him,” Gojdycz says of his father. In 2016, Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay with some engineer friends

Funded by a $2,000 grant from the University of Uruguay, the company's mission was “to democratize and economize affordable and sustainable shopping,” in part by eliminating wasteful single-use plastic packaging.

“I worked for one year from my bedroom,” he tells InnovationMap.

Fernando Machin Gojdycz founded Boxes in Uruguay before relocating the company to Greentown Houston. Photo courtesy of Boxes

The device, attached to a wall, offers free samples, or purchased products, in areas of high foot traffic, with a touch-screen interface. Powered by watsonx Assistant, the device asks survey questions of the customer, who can answer or not, on their mobile devices, via a QR code.

In return for completing a survey, customers can get a digital coupon, potentially generating future sales. The software and AI tech tracks sales and consumer preferences, giving valuable real-time market insight.

“This is very powerful,” he says.

Boxes partnered in Uruguay with major consumer brands like Kimberly-Clark, SC Johnson and Unilever, and during COVID, pivoted and offered PPE products. Then, with plans of an expansion into the United States, Boxes in 2021 landed its first U.S. backer, with $120,000 in funding from startup accelerator Techstars.

This led to a partnership with the Minnesota Twins, where Boxes devices at Target Field dispensed brand merchandise like keychains and bottles of field dirt.

Gojdycz says while a company in the Northeast is developing a product similar in size, Boxes is not “targeting traditional spaces.” Its software and integration with AI allows Boxes to seamlessly change the device screen and interface, remotely, as well.

Boxes aims to provide the devices in smaller spaces, like restrooms, where they have a device at the company's headquarters at climate tech incubator Greentown Labs. Boxes also recently added a device at Hewlett Packard Enterprise headquarters in Spring, as part of HPE’s diversity startup program.

Boxes hopes to launch another sustainable innovation later this year, in universities and supermarkets. The company is also developing a device that would offer refillable detergent and personal cleaning products like shampoo and conditioner with a reusable container.

Since plastic packaging accounts for 40 percent of retail price, consumers would pay far less, making a huge difference, particularly for lower-income families, he says.

“We are working to make things happen, because we have tried to pitch this idea,” he says.

Some supermarket retailers worry they may lose money or market share, and that shoppers may forget to bring the refill bottles with them to the store, for example.

“It’s about..the U.S. customer,” he says, “….but we think that sooner or later, it will come.”

Boxes has gotten funding from the accelerator startup branch of Houston-based software company Softeq, as well as Mission Driven Finance, Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund, and Right Side Capital, among others.

“Our primary challenges are scaling effectively with a small, yet compact team and maintaining control over our financial runway,” Gojdycz says.

The company has seven employees, including two on its management team.

Gojdycz says they are actively hiring, particularly in software and hardware engineering, but also in business development.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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