By Rep. Mike Yantachka
Are you in the market for a new or used automobile? Are you concerned about climate change and want to reduce your fossil fuel consumption? Have you been thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV) but are anxious about the cost or about how far it can go on a charge? Having good information about the EV market can help you decide if an EV is right for you.
Transitioning from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles to help Vermont become less dependent on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to transportation is key to our efforts to fight climate change. With the help of federal recovery assistance, this year’s state budget increases the money available for EV incentive and emission repair programs. Here are some facts about the pros and cons of buying and owning an EV.
What is an EV? An EV is a car that uses a battery either wholly or partially to power the vehicle. It can be a plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV) that supplements the battery with a conventional gasoline engine, or it can be a purely battery powered vehicle called an All-Electric Vehicle (AEV). PHEVs have a more limited electric range, typically around 30 to 50 miles, before switching over to gasoline. AEVs can go much further on a charge, the distance depending on the year, make and model. Older AEVs may reach 100 miles, but new models have ranges exceeding 200 miles. Tesla AEVs can now travel up to 350 miles on a full charge. Drive Electric Vermont has all the information you need on EVs available in Vermont as well as fact sheets which list EV models and their ranges.
Why drive an EV? Vermont has a goal of transitioning from fossil fuel energy to 90% electric energy by 2050. Vermont’s electricity is about 65% carbon-free today and is getting cleaner every year. Aside from the benefit of not burning fossil fuels that contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, there are financial benefits as well. Not only is the cost of electricity per mile driven less than the cost of gasoline per mile, but the maintenance costs of an EV are lower. There are no oil changes, spark plugs, catalytic converters, or emissions equipment unless it’s a PHEV, and those costs are lower for PHEVs compared to gasoline-driven vehicles. Go to DriveelectricVT.com for a detailed cost of ownership analysis.
What incentives are available? Available incentives depend on the year and model of the EV, whether it is new or used, and who the seller is. There are federal, state and utility incentives available in Vermont. Federal tax credits ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 are available to buyers of qualified plug-in electric vehicles. The size of the credit is based on the battery size. Once an individual manufacturer sells 200,000 qualifying vehicles the credit is phased out for that automaker over the course of a year. The State of Vermont provides incentives for plug-in electric vehicles sold or leased as new with a base manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $40,000 or less. Depending on a family’s adjusted gross income (AGI), rebates from $1,500 to $4,000 are offered for new EVs and PHEVs. Used EVs are also eligible for a rebate of 25% of the initial price of the vehicle, up to $5,000, through the Vermont Mileage Smart program administered by Capstone Community Action. Green Mountain Power, Burlington Electric Department, and other utilities also offer incentives for new EVs ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.
Electric vehicles are going to play a major role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Their popularity is increasing at the same time range anxiety is decreasing because of the longer ranges being built into the vehicles as well as the growth of the public charging infrastructure. And they’re fun to drive. So, next time you decide you need a new or used set of wheels, take the time to visit the Drive Electric Vermont website to see if an EV makes sense for you.