Georgia’s Electric Vehicle Leadership Under Attack

Guest Blog | February 4, 2015 | Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles

Georgia has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing markets for electric vehicles (EVs). We have the second-most registered EVs in the country and Atlanta has the second-highest percentage of EV registrations among major U.S. cities. We are gaining national recognition for this growth.

Strong state policy support, specifically the Zero Emissions Alternative Fuel Vehicle tax credit, has been the key factor in this success. Originally passed in the late 1990s, the tax credit went unused for many years, but with the introduction of the new EVs in 2010, the tax credit began enabling Georgians to purchase these new vehicles, giving Georgians experience with this new technology, providing economics benefits to Georgia, and helping reduce air emissions in Atlanta and other local areas.

Economic Benefits

The money that EV drivers do spend on “fuel” goes to our power companies that are employing Georgians, paying local taxes, and have a stake in the state economy. A majority of the money drivers spend to fill up conventional vehicles, in contrast, pays for crude oil, which is extracted and refined outside of Georgia. EVs also save drivers money through lower maintenance costs. According to a recent study, maintaining an EV can cost 60 percent less than maintaining a conventional vehicle.

Unfortunately, this tax credit is under attack. HB 122, introduced by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), would eliminate the state’s tax credit for EVs. This is bad news for Georgians!

Despite our growth, EVs still make up just a small fraction of the cars on our roads, accounting for 2 percent or less of sales in the first half of 2014. We still have a long way to go, and it will take time for EVs to become a large share of the new vehicle market.

And, there remains a huge potential market for EVs in Georgia and across the country.  According to a study by Union of Concerned Scientists and Consumers Union, 42 percent of households could buy an electric vehicle today. With a variety of plug-in electric vehicles already available in Georgia and more models on the way, eliminating this important driver for a new industry would put the breaks on the benefits the EVs are providing in our state.

Fortunately, a new bill, HB 220, addresses many concerns that legislators expressed last year when the tax credit was being debated.  This bill, sponsored by Representative Ben Harbin (R-Evans), would keep a tax credit in place, but at a lower level ($3000 instead of $5000) for the next year and then it would be reduced in subsequent years until it is phased out at the end of 2019.  The bill would also open the credit to all plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt.  We think this bill strikes a good balance– addressing budget concerns, but providing support for the nascent EV market.

Do you want to continue EV growth in Georgia? Then send a personal note or call (recommended) to your Representatives or take action here to voice your support electric vehicles in Georgia by supporting HB 220 and opposing HB 122.

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