My interest in cars has been called atypical. Growing up, my father worked as a mechanic for a Chrysler dealership on Chicago’s south side and later as a bus mechanic for the CTA. I grew up surrounded by cars in various states of repair but I generally viewed cars as that thing that made my old man swear in the garage.
It wasn’t until electric vehicles started becoming feasible that I started actively reading car news. Now I can’t get enough of it – especially as it relates to electric vehicles. Between Tesla coyly teasing the D and the Gigafactory announcement for Nevada, it’s an exciting year for EV news.
But much of the conversation about EVs are centered on the cars themselves and the companies that make them. Truth be told, EVs are as much about infrastructure and incentives as they are about vehicle specs. That’s why I think the most crucial EV developments are actually occurring at the state and city level.
Case and point: 40% of all EVs are bought in the US are bought by California residents. This isn’t a matter of absolute population – although that doesn’t hurt. It’s easy to see why California is leading the charge: in addition to plentiful charging stations (considerably more than other states), the Golden State offers a $1500 rebate on plug-in electric vehicles through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. That’s on top of the $7500 federal tax credit and doesn’t even include city-specific benefits like free parking, reduced charging rates or additional rebates.
I don’t think any other state will overtake California when it comes to EV adoption but I expect other states to close the gap over the next 10 years – particularly Georgia and Colorado. Colorado is giving residents a considerable 6 grand in income tax credits when they buy a plug-in EV. The state also offers tax credits (although not for the full $6000) for residents who convert their existing light-duty vehicle into an EV.
Meanwhile, the Nissan Leaf is blowing up in Atlanta, making it the #1 market for the Leaf and a booming market for EVs in general. This is no doubt a result of Georgia’s $5000 tax credit and a reduced charging rate courtesy of Georgia Power.
Hell, even my home state of Illinois, a state generally believed to be incapable of making good decisions, is offering $4000. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.
That said, tax rebates only do so much. Although by no means perfect, California’s network of public charging stations is considerably better than other states. I’m anxiously waiting the day that EV ownership makes as much sense for someone in Fairfield, IL as it does for someone in Chicago. Even though battery technology is constantly improving, EVs become even more impressive when they’re just as feasible outside of your state’s biggest metro area.
We’re well on our way and incentives and perks for EV ownership perks are paving the way. I’ll be the first to admit that state and city EV legislation isn’t as sexy as say, the Model D’s autopilot functionality. But if unsexy means more money back come tax season, I’ll take unsexy every time.
In addition to being pumped for EVs, Joe Anderson works as a Content Manager for AutoAccessoriesGarage.com.