NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Electric car boosters around the country must be getting slightly dizzy keeping track of the ever-changing landscape for incentives for their favorite plug-in vehicles. While several state programs have been cancelled recently, Tennessee and Connecticut have just authorized new ones, and regulators in Pennsylvania have renewed an old program.
Tennessee's Department of Environment and Conservation says that beginning June 15, it will provide rebates of $2,500 for electric vehicles and $1,500 for plug-in hybrids that are sold or leased by car dealerships in the state and are registered in Tennessee.
The Tennessee program requires the dealer to apply for the rebate and then to pass it on to the customer. Tennessee is home to the U.S. operations of Nissan Motor Co., manufacturer of the Leaf EV. A previous EV rebate program in the state expired at the beginning of 2014.
The Connecticut rebate plan, named so that its acronym spells out "CHEAPR," is based on battery size. It provides a $3,000 cash rebate for buyers of any hydrogen fuel-cell electric car (none are sold as of yet in the state) and for buyers of plug-in electric vehicles with minimum battery capacity of 18 kilowatt-hours.
Plug-in vehicles with battery capacity between 7 and 18 kWh qualify for a $1,500 rebate under the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate program, as it is officially titled. Vehicles with less than 7 kWh of battery capacity are eligible for $750 rebates. As in Tennessee, the selling car dealership must fill out and submit the rebate application.
In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection says it will continue funding a state alternative fuel vehicle rebate program that provides cash rebates of up to $2,000 to plug-in vehicle buyers.
Vehicles with battery capacities of 10 kWh or greater are eligible for the maximum $2,000, while those with smaller batteries — including any fuel-cell electric vehicles that eventually are made available in the state — qualify for $1,000 rebates. Compressed natural gas and propane vehicles also are eligible for the state's $1,000 rebate. Buyers of electric motorcycles and scooters can get $500.
Limited state funding means the Pennsylvania program can only support about 250 of the $2,000 rebates while the Tennessee program could handle about 275 of the state's full $2,500 rebates and the Connecticut program is good for 266 for the full $3,000 payments.
Legislators in Georgia, where the greater Atlanta area had been a hotbed of EV sales in recent years, have cancelled the state's $5,000 rebate and a rebate program in Illinois was cancelled earlier this year as part of a statewide budget slashing effort. A Texas program is slated to expire in mid-June if there is no legislative push for renewal — although the state Web site says the $4 million remaining in the rebate fund will be distributed even after the program expires.
A federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for plug-in vehicles remains in place until each manufacturer has sold 200,000 qualifying models — a mark none is yet close to.
Edmunds says: Incentives are nice to get and can help jumpstart emerging technologies, but car shoppers should never count on rebate programs being a permanent fixture when planning a car-buying budget.