Connecticut catches breaks on electric vehicle purchases

With global climate change at the forefront of national discussion, some people have opted to take matters out of the hands of policy makers and into their own.
Many have fought to reduce harmful emissions by switching from conventional, gasoline-powered vehicles to electric cars or hybrids.
Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector accounted for about 27% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), not only do electric vehicles (EVs) annually emit about half as much CO2 equivalent as conventional gas vehicles, they also run on fuel roughly 50% cheaper. An electric “eGallon” at present costs a national average of $1.22, whereas a gallon of regular gasoline costs $2.78.
The problem is that although they are cheaper to fuel, EVs are more expensive to purchase.
“Although fuel costs for hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles are generally lower than for similar conventional vehicles, purchase prices can be significantly higher,” reads an entry in the DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center.
Furthermore, the cost to replace the battery in an EV is roughly three times more expensive compared to the cost of a major engine repair or replacement in a conventional vehicle, Justin Loiseau of Daily Finance said.
It would seem, then, that for EVs to become economic, some cost somewhere down the line must be mitigated.
The Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Vehicle Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program does just that.
CHEAPR offers cash rebates of up to $3,000 to Connecticut consumers for purchasing or leasing eligible EVs. Since it was announced May 19 of this year, the program has issued and reserved $282,000 in rebates, with $518,000 left to distribute.
Made possible through a funding commitment by Eversource Energy, CHEAPR is an incentive pilot program by EVConnecticut, a partnership between the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) that works to introduce more EVs into Connecticut.
According to the DEEP website, CHEAPR exists “as part of Governor Malloy’s efforts to provide cleaner, cheaper and more reliable transportation energy and to support (Connecticut’s) clean air goals.”
In Wilton, $7,500 in rebates have been distributed, for two Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrids, a BMW i3 REx and a Nissan LEAF.

How it works

Battery electric vehicles (BEV), fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) are eligible for CHEAPR rebates, which are offered at three different levels:

  • Rebates of $3,000 are available for vehicles with battery capacities greater than 18 kilowatt-hours (kWh) or for any fuel cell electric vehicles. Cars in this category include the Nissan LEAF, Volkswagen e-Golf, Ford Focus Electric, BMWi3 and Mercedes Benz B Class.

  • Rebates of $1,500 are available for vehicles with battery capacities between 7 and 18kWh, such as the 2015 Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-MAX Energi and Ford Fusion Energi.

  • A $750 rebate is available for vehicles with battery capacities less than 7kWh, like the Toyota Prius Plug-In.

Dealers of licensed Connecticut franchised new automobile dealerships will complete and submit rebate applications at the time of sale or lease.
Aftermarket plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric conversions, electric scooters, all-terrain vehicles, neighborhood or low-speed vehicles and electric motorcycles are not eligible for CHEAPR.

Other incentives

Along with CHEAPR rebates, federal tax credits may be obtained for BEVs and PHEVs. They range from $2,500 to $7,500.
DEEP has also undertaken other initiatives through EVConnecticut.
In addition to partnering with the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA) on a contest that gave awards to dealerships that sold or leased the highest number of EVs, DEEP has provided about $400,000 in grants to fund the installation of 184 EV chargers, it says.

Can Wilton catch up?

According to the DEEP website, there are currently 361 publicly available EV chargers in Connecticut.
Wilton Energy Commission Chairman Bruce Hampson said that Wilton has two EV chargers, one at Wilton Library and one at the Comstock Community Center.
He said there are no immediate plans to add more.
“The fundamental reason for this,” Hampson noted, “is that there are relatively few electric vehicles in Wilton.”
Perhaps the CHEAPR rebates will help to spur EV sales in Wilton.