Green Car Congress reports that the Senate Committe On Finance is recommending (PDF) increases in the amount and size of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) tax credit. The proposal has been put forward as part of Barack Obama’s stimulus plan, the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Of 2009. The availability of PHEV tax credits would be doubled under the plan, from 250k to half a million vehicles sold before the credit phases out. The tax break amount is unchanged, with a base credit of $2,500 per qualifying PHEV plus $417 for each kilowatt-hour of battery capacity in excess of four kilowatt-hours. For vehicles under 10k lbs, the maximum credit is $7,500. Credits increase by vehicle weight, but the maximum (for vehicles over 26k lbs) is $15k.
A new category for Low Speed Vehicles (LSV) would also be created under the Senate plan, excluding them from the standard PHEV credit. Because, Mr Arnell, they aren’t cars. The maximum LSV credit would be $4k. But here’s the problem: there are tons of overpriced, unusable LSVs on the market, but no actual PHEVs. Yet. The credit won’t go into effect until January 2010, but the Volt (which is clearly being targeted with this credit) won’t be available until “late 2010.” Until then, who will qualify for this credit? Toyota’s plug-in Prius, the Tesla and large hybrid buses and commercial vehicles. Shouldn’t Detroit’s lobbyists look into this?