California is more a force for pushing ZEVs than the federal CAFE rules. …
By Jon LeSage
California is contemplating new ZEV requirements, making Tesla and a few competitors quite angry.
The state’s zero emission vehicle rules require automakers to sell all-electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in proportion to their market share in the state. Automakers earn credits to reach those goals. Companies that exceed the standards, like Tesla Motors, can sell their extra credits to Honda and other carmakers that don’t. The rapid sales growth by Tesla and the increasing range of other EVs have the state contemplating new requirements.
California’s Air Resources Board has projected 15.4 percent market share for ZEVs by 2025. ZEV credits have been flooding the system and automakers may now be able to fulfill their requirements with as little as 6 percent of their fleets consisting of all-electric or fuel-cell vehicles, said Dan Sperling, a professor of civil engineering and environmental science at the University of California at Davis. To bring those figures back in line, the state may increase its ZEV requirement, said Sperling, who serves on the ARB board.
The prospect of such a move is angering automakers, whether they sold credits to other companies or used them for their own zero-emission compliance.
“It’s a feature of the regulation that you’re required to produce fewer cars if you invest more in technology,” said Robert Bienenfeld, assistant vice president for U.S. environmental strategy at Honda. “It’s bizarre to say we need to make the regulation more stringent because it’s working.”
Tesla sold $168.7 million in ZEV and other regulatory credits last year, and has seen its electric car sales increase significantly. Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s vice president for business development, said he supports higher emission targets. But he rejects the idea of capping credit trades, which he calls “an extremely stupid idea: You’d be punishing people who are doing the most to put EVs on the road.”
The potential oversupply comes as federal and California regulators begin a midterm review of their plan to boost U.S. fuel economy to a projected 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, and cut tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions 35 percent.
“The industry asked for the midterm so we can lower the standard if necessary,’’ said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. “We said ‘Fine, as long as there is also the possibility it can go higher.”’
Nichols said she hasn’t decided how to respond to the oversupply of credits. Some analysts say changing the rules now might spark a backlash.
“If automakers are hitting the targets and complying with the law, it’s politically untenable for the ARB to change the measuring stick,” said Eric Noble, president of CarLab, an automotive-consulting firm.
Since 1990, when the zero-emission mandate started, California has been alone among world regulators in requiring specific technologies instead of just setting pollution limits. That’s having a big impact, said Alan Baum, an independent auto analyst based in West Bloomfield, Mich.
By 2018, the number of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric models sold in the U.S. will jump to 92 from 58 this year, Baum said. Cheap gasoline drove the sale of such models and fuel-cell cars down 11.3 percent last year to 509,000. By 2018, they should rebound to 854,000, Baum said.
Volkswagen AG will play a part in the building up California’s infrastructure and clean-air mandates. The automaker agreed last week to spend more than $1 billion in the state as part of a settlement with regulators on its diesel emissions scandal. The state will use the cash to build electric and hydrogen fueling stations as well as other clean-air projects.
As the tally of states offering support for plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) has grown, so has the list of those now levying some form of tax or fee against them.
Yes that’s right, in their wisdom, state legislators mirroring a nationwide thrust to defray PEVs’ extra expense have on one hand given, and on the other hand taken away.
In other cases, a few mainly take while giving little if anything meaningful to the buyers of plug-in electrified vehicles.
A major rationale for the seeming contradiction of policy has included that conventional car drivers pay gas taxes which support road maintenance and repair, and plug-in cars otherwise use these roads without paying as much if any gas tax.
Some lawmakers have recognized the issue, and have floated alternatives to the gas tax that once built the Interstate Highway system, but a trend has been to simply charge fees so plug-in car owners pay a perceived fair share. Actually, the fees are low enough that they may not compensate for lost gas tax revenues.
In any event, 10 states and counting have tacked on expenses to owners of plug-in or other alternative-fueled vehicles. In 2015, four states added their names to the list making it the most active year to date, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Of course all U.S. citizens are potentially eligible for a $2,500-$7,500 federal tax credit for purchase of a new PEV. And, in states most in sync with the federal government’s goals, legislators have been willing to kick in extra dollars as a rebate, credit, or in cases exemption from sales tax.
One of the best deals includes the CHEAPR plan in Connecticut where buyers can get up to a $3,000 instant rebate, and several states offer as much as $2,500 and more, with other healthy incentives besides.
That said, following in alphabetical order is the list current through February 2016 of states charging fees.
You want irony? Here’s irony. Colorado leads the nation with one of the most generous state alternative fuel programs allotting as much as $6,000 for qualified electric cars, but it does kindly ask for fifty bucks of it back.
Specifically, H.B. 1110 (2013) requires electric vehicle owners annually pay a fee of $50 over and above normal vehicle registration fees.
In a similar circumstance, but maybe worse is the Peach State, which in 2013 had been Nissan’s New Best Friend, with the Atlanta market surpassing the San Francisco Bay area in monthly Leaf sales.
Well, things have changed, and H.B. 170 (2015) repealed a state tax credit of $5,000 while imposing a $200 annual fee on all non-commercial electric vehicles on top of standard vehicle registration fees.
The state of Idaho does not offer much more than an exemption for eligible electrified vehicles from vehicle inspections, while levying fees on the same.
To wit, H.B. 312 (2015) created a $140 annual fee for all-electric vehicles and $75 on certain hybrid vehicles. As per usual for these state fees, this is in addition to normal vehicle registration fees.
The home to the Detroit auto industry also allows for inspection exemptions, and has some programs to subsidize electric vehicle charging equipment, but denies its residents any plug-in tax credit or rebate, while charging them if they want to drive them.
In this case, H.B. 4736 (2015), which is to begin Jan. 1, 2017, imposes an annual $47.50 fee on hybrid vehicles up to 8,000 pounds and $117.50 for hybrid vehicles weighing over 8,000 pounds.
This legislation further includes an annual fee of $135 for electric vehicles under 8,000 pounds and $235 for those over 8,000 pounds. These fees are indexed to the gasoline tax and are in addition to standard vehicle registration fees.
The Show Me state has an alternative fueling infrastructure tax credit, exemption from inspections for eligible vehicles, but no meaningful tax credit or rebate for PEV purchases.
What it does have is S.B. 619 (1998), which requires owners of certain alternative fuel vehicles, including electric ones, to pay an annual decal fee. For passenger motor vehicles, the fee is $75. Non-passenger vehicles are subject to increased fees which are calculated based on the type of vehicle. This is over and above standard vehicle registration fees.
Nebraska also gives no tax credit or rebate, but does have a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan Program which offers low-cost loans for various alternative-fuel projects.
Nebraska also has L.B. 289 (2011) requiring a $75 annual fee to register an alternative fuel vehicle that operates on electricity or any other source of energy not otherwise taxed under the state motor fuel tax laws. This fee is in addition to standard vehicle registration fees.
North Carolina has an HOV lane exemption for solo travel in a PEV, and offers exemption from inspections. Further, an alternative fuel tax exemption says under the retail sale, use, storage, and consumption of alternative fuels is exempt from the state retail sales and use tax.
Also in state is H.B. 97 (2015) which increased a former electric vehicle registration fee (under S.B. 402 (2013), from $100 to $130 per year. This fee is in addition to standard vehicle registration fees.
As in the case of other states, Virginia has an HOV lane exemption, and exemption from emissions inspection (we know, all you zero-emission vehicle owners are relieved).
Virginia also imposes S.B. 127 (2014). This law requires that alternative fuel vehicles and all-electric vehicles — hybrid vehicles are excluded — registered in Virginia pay annually pay a vehicle license tax of $64. If the jurisdiction receiving the revenues from this fee do not use the funds for transportation purposes, the fee within that jurisdiction will fall to $50 in subsequent years. This is in addition to standard vehicle registration fees.
Washington has a list of programs to help alternative fuel including electrified vehicle owners along.
It also has H.B. 2660 (2012) mandating that electric vehicle owners pay an annual vehicle registration fee of $100. The fee will expire if the legislature imposes a vehicle miles traveled fee or tax in the state. This fee is in addition to normal vehicle registration fees.
Wyoming’s Yellowstone-Teton Clean Cities (YTCC) does offer a rebate of $5,000 toward the purchase of publicly accessible EVSE, but individual consumers are not offered anything.
On the other hand, H.B. 9 (2015) requires a one-time $50 fee for a decal on electric vehicles.
No, wait, scratch that. It is not one time. In 2016, Wyoming enacted H.B. 2 clarifying the legislative intent was that the fee should be levied every year, so the $50 fee is annually.
The extended-range Chevy Volt is a great solution for those who want to drive all-electric, while having gas back-up – unless their living situation is like that of so many New Yorkers.
Or, so says Gersh Kuntzman who drives the point home as he drives the Volt around the city staging extension-cord-dragging scenes and desperate pleas with ungracious strangers dismissing him with bleeped expletives.
For all intents and purposes, Kuntzman could have had a Cruze considering how little electricity his foraging exercise was able to garner in many of the situations featured. His point could just as well have been made for any EV, like a Leaf, or i3, or you name it, though he did manage to find a Tesla wall charger.
In any event, his point is likely valid for too many dwellers in places where guaranteed parking spots are not available.
“If you’re lucky enough to get the spot in front of your house or building, you might be able to drag extension cords across the sidewalk, but you’ll be subject to a ticket for the obstruction,” writes Kuntzman. “And if you try to “fill up” your electron tank at a public garage or freestanding charging stations that are popping up all over, you’ll sometimes need eight to 14 hours for a complete top-off. There are some faster charging poles around (good luck finding them!), but even they require four hours. What am I supposed to do during that time? And in the few neighborhoods that have them?”
What’s a New Yorker to do?
Kuntzman did not offer commentary from New York officials or anyone else on what, if anything is planned, as a solution – if there is to be one any time soon, that is.
Here’s a trick question: How much will you have to pay for a new Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Ford Fusion Energi, Tesla, or some other plug-in electrified vehicle?
If you live in the U.S., the answer is it all depends on the state in which you live and/or register the car.
Aside from a $2,500 to $7,500 federal tax credit depending on the vehicle’s battery size, people buying or leasing may also benefit from a menu of state incentives, most notably a cash rebate or tax credit, on top of the federal allotment.
State-level perks are made available under qualified terms to compensate for the extra expense associated with plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and in cases hydrogen fuel cell and other alternative fuel vehicles. Like your fuel mileage, state-offered dollar amounts do vary – from very generous down to zero.
Looking at a Chevy Volt (pictured top) as an example, the purchase amount before options could be as much as the $33,995 base selling price to as low as around $22,000 depending on where you live and your tax filing status. This is before any dealer discounts and other potential state or local perks, including additional financial benefits under state programs.
As a point of comparison, the best-selling Toyota Prius – ineligible for federal or state purchase incentives – starts at $25,035.
Why the variance for the plug-in? The discretion to offer these perks is up to the individual states, and you can see this in a couple of different ways. If you are eligible for a state rebate or credit, it’s tantamount to a windfall gain, though you will likely have forms to fill in, and typically will need to front the money you expect to get back.
If your state does not offer a meaningful financial green car incentive, while it would have been nice to receive, and may even feel unfair that your state offers nothing (or less than another state), bottom line is the state does not owe people free money.
Most states are willing to offer some form of monetary incentives, however, and their willingness to temporarily deprive the tax base is also to meet their goals of transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner air.
For the past half decade this has been the reality and the state-by-state incentives have been taken advantage of by many of the people who’ve purchased the almost half a million PEVs that are now on American roads.
Unlike the federal rules, the state-level perks are periodically reviewed, changed, and some programs have limits and finite funds, so it is better to investigate and if possible, get while the getting is good.
To give you an up-to-the minute update, with help from the National Conference of State Legislatures, and with data collected by the U.S. Alternative Fuel Data Center (AFDC), our list follows.
Notable is the country’s dominant PEV-consuming state, California, has for now suspended its alternative fuel vehicle rebate program putting applicants on a waiting list while budgetary issues are worked out. It would have made the list, but we’ll link its most-extensive list of benefits, many of which are still active. Similarly, Illinois’ state plan is also suspended, but its generous allotment would have ranked second.
States are ranked by maximum dollar amount for their alternative vehicle credit, but within each this may be less, depending on which qualifying vehicle you purchase, or other provisions of the individual programs.
7 Rhode Island – $2,500
Rhode Island is one of the “tri-state” region of New England states that are patterning off each other to put more PEVs on the road. Surveys have shown many residents are unaware of the existence of programs that could help offset their costs. Consider this your notice: FREE MONEY.
The Ford Fusion Energi, like its C-Max sibling, offers 19 miles EV range and high mpg in a package comparable to versions with conventional or regular hybrid powertrains in Ford’s popular midsized sedan line. Because of its smaller 7.6-kWh battery, it does not qualify for the highest dollar allotments in state or federal programs.
The state offers for its residents the Driving Rhode Island to Vehicle Electrification rebate program with rebates of up to $2,500 for the purchase or lease of qualified plug-in electrified vehicles.
These, like the federal tax credit, do vary by battery size, and and more can be learned at the AFDC, or Rhode Island’s site.
6. Massachusetts – $2,500
Massachusetts is another of the “tri-state” states where advocates are working to see automakers send more cars, and to also get more dealers enthusiastic about stocking and selling them. To help, this state also is willing to help close the deal.
Toyota’s Mirai FCV is not available yet outside a limited market in California, but states are preparing for it and other FCVs. Toyota says the Northeast corridor from New England states down to New Jersey is next to get it.
The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources has a program called Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) offering rebates of up to $2,500 to customers purchasing PEVs.
Massachusetts also has for local governments, public universities and colleges, and state agencies its Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP). Not for indiviual consumers, these do offer grants to purchase or lease qualified PEVs, zero emission electric motorcycles (ZEMs), and Level 2 EVSE. Up to $7,500 in grants is available to purchase or lease a PEV, up to $13,500 is available to purchase or lease a Level 2 EVSE, and up to $750 is offered to purchase or lease a ZEM.
During its best sales year of 2014, Nissan was reporting the Atlanta region as one where all of a sudden many residents decided the Leaf was a great idea. No, it wasn’t the TV ad where the polar bear hugged the Leaf buyer in his driveway that captured their attention, it was because of now-reduced perks that added to $5,000 or more which made the value proposition hard to resist.
The Nissan Leaf, launched December 2010, is the world’s best selling PEV with more than 220,000 sold. Lease deals make it still a wise acquisition, and alternatively used examples (not credit eligible) are attractively priced.
The state still has a number of incentives, including an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Tax Credit for individuals who purchase or lease a new dedicated AFV or convert a vehicle to operate solely on alternative fuel. This tax credit is for up to 10 percent of the vehicle cost, or up to $2,500.
Potentially better than sweet tea is another income tax credit for charging the vehicle, called the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Tax Credit. This also provides up to 10 percent of the electric vehicle charging equipment, or up to $2,500.
Beyond these are other incentives from Georgia Power, an HOV lane exemption permitting solo access, and more can be learned at the AFDC, or Georgia’s own website.
4. Maryland – $3,000
Maryland is known for crab dishes, the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, among other things, and with up to $3,000 in PEV incentives, it can also be known as one of the better incentive-offering states in the country. The PEV incentive allotted by battery size is however adjusted so that cars like the largest battery plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt do not receive the maximum dollar amount (it’s eligible for $2,300). Other states do give their maximum credit for the Volt, as does the federal government, but in Maryland battery electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, others, and of course Teslas will get more of the incentive.
Diving into the details a bit, in addition to an HOV solo lane exemption for qualified alternative fueled vehicles the state offers a plug-in car tax credit. Effective July 1, 2014 through July 1, 2017, H.B. 1345 and S.B. 908 (2014) replace the existing tax credit of up to $1,000 with a tax credit equal to $125 times the number of kilowatt-hours of battery capacity of the vehicle, or up to $3,000. That just qualifies the 24-kWH Nissan Leaf for the whole enchilada (or whole crab cake, you choose).
Further, The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) offers an income tax credit equal to 20 percent of the cost of qualified electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) – AKA charging equipment – that provides a 50-percent rebate for the EVSE plus installation costs.
Beyond this, the state offers an alternative fuel vehicle voucher program, alternative fuel infrastructure grants, an innovative transportation project competitive grant program, and this info is worth looking into via the AFDC site, or MEA site.
3. Louisiana – $3,000
The land of the Mardi Gras, Cajun, Creole, and other cultural uniqueness is also making its contribution to green energy with a tax credit of 10 percent of a new motor vehicle’s cost, up to $3,000.
This is an alternative to an income tax credit for 50 percent of the cost of converting or purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle or constructing an alternative fueling station.
Just facelift, the Tesla Model S was introduced in summer 2012, and has been updated on the fly, The automaker has other issues with states however, and a few have restrictions on its factory direct sales practice. Tesla’s website incentive page is a source for more info.
Uncertain is the status at the moment. Latest available data said by January 31, 2016, the Louisiana House Committee on Ways and Means and Senate Committee on Revenue and Fiscal Affairs ws to review the credit’s economic benefit and make a recommendation by March 1, 2017, to extend or terminate the credit.
In announcing its program, Connecticut stakeholders said they thought they could maybe teach California a lesson on how to do subsidies, which at the moment given California’s status, is all the more potent.
“We’re a small state, but we have some big ideas, and maybe we can show California how to do this,” said Jim Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association in August 2015 as they announced cash on the hood rebates. “It’s a bit of an experiment.”
The BMW i3 comes in pure battery electric and range-extended versions. Its battery options are being updated, and while less than the Bolt’s is a very advanced car.
Much more attractive than waiting for a check or tax credit is money at the point of sale taken directly off the sales price, and that is what Connecticut does. As the other “tri-state” mentioned, the exact amount varies by eligible car, and it will accommodate fuel cell vehicles if and when they get there, as has been planned.
Its Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate Program (CHEAPR) provides up to $3,000 for purchase or lease of a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), or PEV on a first-come, first-served basis.
This state is the missing link to the Volt purchase example used up top for how to get a $34,995 Volt for approximately $22,000 as a Volt is eligible for around $4,500 in a program that goes as high as $6,000 for qualified vehicles. With a new twist on the meaning of Rocky Mountain high, residents eligible for the full $7,500 plus $6,000 in state credit will have to front the money when making the purchase, but stand to get it all back come tax time.
The state’s Alternative Fuel & Advanced Vehicle Technology Tax Credit provides up to $6,000 for a motor vehicle that uses or is converted to use an alternative fuel, is a hybrid electric vehicle or has its power source replaced with one that uses an alternative fuel.
The Chevy Volt is a compact, so it’s smaller than midsized plug-in hybrid sedans, but stomps them all in the all-important EV range category, with 53 miles rated range.
Fleet buyers can also qualify for up to $8,260 per PEV under a program by The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) and Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC) which provides grants to support fleet PEV adoption.
Also supported for consumers are electric vehicle charging equipment grants, a solo driver HOV lane exemption, and what’s not to like?
Apart for the AFDC website, an excellent reference has been the National Conference of State Legislatures’ soup-to-nuts compendium all on one page put together by Energy Program Manager Kristy Hartman. Last updated December 2015, changes in state programs have taken place since then, and an updated page is expected soon.
The Volt had another month hovering in the 2,000 vicinity, specifically 1,937 sales in June.
Chevrolet’s EREV is up 56.1 percent over June 2015, and calendar year-to-date sales was 9,808.
For the past five years it’s been a tradition for some to ask how the Leaf is doing as well, though it’s become apparent these are two different cars, and now in two different market cycles.
If you’re curious, the still-gen-one Leaf sold 1,096 but of greater note is the Ford plug-in hybrid sedan which is coming on strong in qualified terms.
The Fusion Energi sold 1,700 units in June, up 133.8 percent year over year. Year-to-date, it’s at 7,235 sales.
It and the Volt are the two plug-in gas electric cars with the best U.S. sales, and the next nearest is the C-Max Energi, which sold 630 in June, down 5.5 percent, and with 3,225 year to date.
In all, the Volt is the leader in gas-electric PEVs though all-electric Tesla has it edged with the S selling an estimated 2,800 in June, and 11,700 for the year, and the X selling an estimated 2,000, and 6,900 for the year.
Have you been eyeing a new battery electric (EV) or plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) but shied away because of price?
If so, you should consider looking into the used car market.
Prices for plug-in vehicles, both electric and hybrid, categorized as one to three years-old have dropped precipitously, making them some of the hottest selling and best deals around.
The average price of near-new EVs has dropped $3,830 on average year-over-year, where conventional gasoline cars over the same time period have dropped just $242 according to a new study by used car aggregator, iSeeCars.com.
“The market may have hit a sweet spot where the pricing has dropped enough to make these cars more desirable,” says the company’s CEO, Phong Ly.
Contributing to the large numbers of used plug-in vehicles has been lucrative lease incentives offered by automakers.
That means many of the used plugs-ins available are eligible for pre-owned vehicle programs available from car companies, making them an even better deal.