Incentivizing Consumers to Buy Electric Vehicles

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


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    • GeorgeHanshaw1

      Despite their dependency on rebates that are unlikely to be sustainable, e-vehicles have still had pitifully small demand. The Nissan Leaf, although markedly superior to the Chevy Volt, is basically incapable of being used for anything but trips around town because of its rather pathetic range. And bad as it is in temperate weather, once you get out of the 60-75 Degree temperature range, the heating/defrosting or cooling requirements cut into its range even more severely. To operate a Nissan Leaf as recommended for maximum battery life in a Midwestern winter – especially at night – limits you to a radius of travel of about a dozen miles. Yet even at that, battery cost alone is a third of the vehicle cost, and those batteries deteriorate so quickly that resale value is a joke.

      • davidhollenshead

        The Leaf has many issues, as does the Teslas.
        The Chevy Volt is significantly better than the Leaf, but is not an EV.

        One of the Best Hybrids in the Via Motors trucks: , which like the Volt, is also brought to you by global climate change denier ex GM executive Bob Lutz. But then GM has been experimenting with hybrids since the 1970s.

        As for EVs that are available in the USA, the best are the Chevy Spark EV and the Ford Focus EV.

        • GeorgeHanshaw1

          Any chance that the e-vehicle tax rebates would continue died with last night’ selection returns.

          • davidhollenshead

            Don’t know if anything will change regarding the rebates. Keep in mind that some Republican voters and Politicians are concerned about our Environment and the source of the Oil we consume.

      • Mark Renburke

        Why is the Volt inferior to the LEAF? I think you have that backwards. (Both are good at what they are designed to do)

        Anyhow, they are both superior to gasoline only cars because they both “refuel” conveniently at home at a lower cost. If you are an average commute, the LEAF provides adequate range confidence.

        If you commute shorter (or longer), or life and/or weather comes at you fast, the Volt always gives you 100% range confidence (and 100% usable battery usage) because the gas backup is there in case you ever need it. And there are Volts on the road with 200,000 miles getting the same average 40+ mile EV range as they got on day one, no measurable range degradation (one area the LEAF will hopefully improve on with the next generation)

    • davidhollenshead

      The cost of an Electric Car and rebates are not the only issue.
      Since affordable EVs have a range of less than 100 miles, three incentives are needed.
      1. More Public Recharging Stations, and Discounted Home Electrical Rates for using a Smart 220VAC Charger, that recharges your EV when our Electrical Grid has an excess of power.
      2. Additional off or on street parking for EVs, since the best way to use an EV is to keep your old gas or diesel car for traveling long distances, which makes the range issue irrelevant. This way your seldom used, old Internal Combustion car should last another decade, long enough for the range issue for EVs to be resolved.
      3. The costs for owning two cars instead of one, needs to be reduced by reasonable insurance policies and registration fees that account for only one car on the road at a time.

      Some EVs like the Tesla’s need a De-coupler or Neutral Gear, so they can be towed, for moving long distances, or they should breakdown. Ideally EVs should also come with a Tow Bar, so it could be used in areas that it could not drive to with it’s limited range.
      The Tesla is not the only EV with issues, as the Leaf is two heavy for it’s suspension and brakes, which is why so many of it’s body panels are aluminum or plastic.

      • GeorgeHanshaw1

        “This way your seldom used, old Internal Combustion car should last another decade, long enough for the range issue for EVs to be resolved.”

        You are dreaming. World governments have been making major investments in attempting to improve battery technology since before WWI. Yes, that is world war ONE when the Germans invested hugely in trying to optimize the batteries of their U-boats. And this continued throughout WWII, the Korean War, and even after the US submarine fleet became predominately nuclear powered, because most other countries field diesel electric submarines. And we invested even more in the early days of NASA, trying to get weight down and amp-hour capacity up, with so little improvement we went to fuel cells and solar panels instead.

        Battery technology is NOT the ‘immature’ technology that e-vehicle advocates claim it is. All the low hanging fruit in battery technology improvement has long since been plucked. Further improvements will be minimal and incremental, not revolutionary.

        • davidhollenshead

          The range issue only exists on the affordable EVs. The Teslas use a significantly more expensive battery technology, and thus cost significantly more than they are worth. But this will change and Tesla is attempting to make their battery pack more affordable.
          Lead Acid Batteries were improved by GMs EV1 test lease program, and some EV Trucks use them because they are cheap, and very recyclable.
          Lithium Ion Batteries are not a mature technology, as the battery packs of my tools show. Each time I have purchased new DeWalt Cordless tools, the Voltage, Torque of the motor, and Amount of Work Done by a Charge Increases.
          The Electric Range on a number of Hybrids like the Volt and VIA trucks will increase when the batteries are replaced. So this is a moving target, with issues like cooling the batteries, charging them etc.