A new state program offering consumers cash rebates of up to $3,000 for purchasing or leasing eligible electric vehicles (EVs) is successfully creating interest and spurring sales.
At an event last month at the Carriage House auto dealership in New London, Robert Klee, Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said, “Consumers ‘get’ that the rebate puts money right back in their pocket and makes the cost of an EV competitive with the price of a conventional vehicle. This will help put more of these vehicles on the road, reducing carbon emissions linked to climate change as well as conventional pollutants.”
Since the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Vehicle Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program, was announced May 19, more than $131,250 in rebates have been paid out or committed for 67 eligible EVs. Rebates are available for eligible battery electric, fuel cell electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Jim Fleming, President of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA), said “The 270 CARA new car auto dealers support the CHEAPR rebate program created in May by Governor Malloy. It will give Connecticut residents who purchase or lease an electric vehicle a rebate of up to $3,000. When combined with federal incentives supported by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Congressman Joe Courtney and other members of the state’s Congressional delegation it’s a great way to promote the sale of electric vehicles in the state and ultimately help the state’s clean air initiatives.”
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said, “From the droughts in California to the floods in Texas to the rising storm surges on Connecticut’s shores, extreme, severe weather is the new normal, compelling urgent, national attention to the crisis of climate change.” He urged the federal government to follow Connecticut’s lead, adding, “The CHEAPR program is a powerful complement to existing federal tax credits, helping to make electric vehicles an affordable option for many, and decreasing the pollution on the road for all.”
Commissioner Klee said putting more EVs on the road offers many benefits to the environment, public health and to those who own them. He noted that:
The gasoline and diesel cars and trucks now on the road are the largest single source of carbon emissions in Connecticut. They account for about 40 percent of the state’s harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Gasoline-powered cars and trucks are the single biggest in-state source of pollutants that produce ozone. This creates the hazy smog that causes respiratory ailments for thousands of our residents each year during the summer months.
Owners of EVs benefit from lower costs for maintenance, repairs and operating expenses. Electricity used to fuel an EV is equivalent to paying about $1.70 per gallon of gasoline. Since many EVs operate on batteries only, they do not require oil changes or onboard vehicle pollution controls and are exempt from emissions testing. These savings make the total cost of owning an EV lower than traditional vehicles.
The CHEAPR initiative is the latest step in Connecticut’s effort to encourage the use of alternative vehicles. Through EVConnecticut, DEEP has already:
- Partnered with CARA on a contest that offered awards to the dealerships that sold or leased the highest number of EVs.
- Provided about $400,000 in grants to fund the installation of 160 EV chargers, some of which are still being installed, which are available to the public free of charge. With the support of an EVConnecticut grant, for instance, chargers were installed in the City of New London’s Water Street garage.
- Made Connecticut the first “range confident” state in the nation. With chargers funded through the EVConnecticut grant program and those installed by others, there are currently 349 publicly available EV chargers in Connecticut.
- The CHEAPR program will also help Connecticut achieve the goals of the eight-state, bi-coastal Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Action Plan designed to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.
- According to R.L. Polk and Company, which provides data on the automotive industry, there are more than 3,000 EVs currently registered in Connecticut.
- In addition to CHEAPR rebates, consumers can take advantage of a Federal Income Tax Credit to help drive down the cost of purchasing a new plug-in electric vehicle. The credit ranges from $2,500 to $7,500, based on the battery capacity of the vehicle.
CHEAPR rebates are being offered at three levels:
- The maximum $3,000 rebate is available for vehicles with a battery capacity greater than 18 kWh or for any fuel cell electric vehicle. Examples of vehicles in this category include the Nissan LEAF, Volkswagen e-Golf, Ford Focus Electric, BMW i3 and Mercedes Benz B class.
- A $1,500 rebate is available for vehicles with a battery capacity between 7 and 18 kWh. Examples of vehicles in this category include the 2015 Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-MAX Energi and Ford Fusion Energi.
- A $750 rebate is available for vehicles with a battery capacity of less than 7 kWh, such as the Toyota Prius Plug-In.
- Rebates will be available until the $1 million in funding is distributed to consumers. If additional funding becomes available, the program may be extended.
Additional information is available at www.ct.gov/deep/CHEAPR