By on November 9, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt - Image: Chevrolet

General Motors doesn’t want it gone, highly indebted Tesla certainly doesn’t want it gone, but House and Senate Republicans would love to see the $7,500 EV tax credit die a quick death. In a sweeping tax proposal introduced last week, the credit’s nowhere to be seen.

The problem, according to many green car and auto industry proponents, is that the U.S. EV market would quickly join the tax credit in going belly-up. There’s a movement afoot to save the incentive (and the fledgling market along with it).

Assuming the credit goes the way of disco (and state-level incentives aside), electric cars would be forced to stand on their own environmental merit. It’s something free-market capitalists would love to see, but would it really spell doom for the segment? That depends on who you ask. But it might be helpful to take a look at where the segment stands right now.

In a month where total U.S. auto sales fell just over 1 percent — and in a year where only one month bucked that trend — 0.5 percent of the 1,348,625 vehicles sold in October were battery electric vehicles. That’s just under 6,800 full electric vehicles out of more than 1.3 million, according to data from Hybrid Cars.

Leading the way was the surging Chevrolet Bolt, which now sells twice as often as its faltering plug-in Volt stablemate. Compared to October of last year, EV sales rose 26.3 percent. Year-to-date, EV sales are up 24.9 percent over 2016.

But remember: the segment’s market share remains 0.57 percent for the year so far, up from 2016’s 0.45 percent. One model — the Ford F-150, accounts for about 5 percent of U.S. market share.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles saw an 11.6-percent boost in volume, year-over-year, in October, with year-to-date sales up 30.2 percent. Sounds great, but October’s plug-in hybrid market share amounts to 0.49 percent. For the first 10 months of 2017, PHEVs count for 0.5 percent of all vehicles sold in the country. That’s up from 0.38 percent in 2016.

Ignoring hybrid vehicles, as they aren’t even eligible for a partial EV tax credit, that leaves the market share of vehicles impacted by the possible credit elimination at 1.07 percent.

Tesla Model S Grey - Image: Tesla

The country-wide introduction of the Bolt has skewed the statistics downward (it accounts for nearly 41 percent of last month’s EV sales), but until recently the vast majority EVs and PHEVs sold in the U.S. carried a hefty sticker price. The Tesla Model S and X, both down in sales for the month, soaked up nearly 30 percent of the EV segment in October.

Are those who drive green (and have plenty of green with which to do it) really going to forgo the Volvo XC90 Plug-in or Tesla Model S for an ’09 Impala? Not likely. But those who feel the urge to drive green and aren’t made of money — those who could pay in the mid-to-high $20k range for an EV, but not the mid-to-high $30k range — might be dissuaded.

In the PHEV segment, the Toyota Prius Prime, Chevrolet Volt, and Ford Fusion Energi make up more than half of the plug-in hybrid market share, each starting north of $30,000. The mystery surrounding the impact of the possible tax credit loss is that we simply don’t know how many future buyers fall into the “We can just barely afford this EV we’re planning on buying, but the incentive made it possible” category. Environmentally, what would be the impact (in terms of greenhouse gasses and fuel resources) if those scorned EV buyers trade in their old car for a more fuel-efficient one instead? Few electricity grids are 100 percent clean, after all.

What if some of the hundreds of thousands of Tesla Model 3 reservation holders say “screw it,” opting instead to wait for Mazda’s compression ignition gas engine?

China’s not going away, nor is Europe, so the electric car dream won’t die a global death if EV sales fall in the United States. Other states might create a tax credit of their own, or possibly increase the existing dollar figure. The loss of government incentive would certainly compel automakers to redouble efforts to lower production costs, thus lowering window sticker prices.

It’s not certain that this proposal is the end of the world.

[Images: General Motors, Tesla]

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90 Comments on “With the EV Tax Credit Threatened, Where Do Green Car Sales Stand Today?...”

  • avatar

    Ignoring the environmental case for the tax credit, there is a case to be made for keeping the US electric car industry growing, since that is where Europe and China seem to be going. Trump wants to help American businesses, and work down the trade deficit. If Tesla dies, and American car manufacturers fall behind in electric car branding and development—then killing the credit is very short-sighted.

    • 0 avatar

      jeoff – – –

      J: “…there is a case to be made for keeping the US electric car industry growing..”

      Only in the lands of Big Daddy Government Socialism. What country are YOU in?
      We have let the failed EV experiment suck off my taxes for far too long already.

      This is America. If general-use EV’s can’t cut it with consumers on their own, then they would be just one more product idea that didn’t work economically. In case you haven’t learned: economics determines history (in the long run).

      If city dwellers can use EV’s locally for shopping trips and the theatre, then fine: they should pay their way just like anyone else.

      My own view is the Japanese got it right: the ultimate future belongs to hydrogen. Or you can lookup Audi’s carbon-neutral e-gas process for a viable alternative:


      • 0 avatar

        Right now, Tesla is the world brand for luxury electric cars, and GM is producing the most competitive mass market electric car. If you are wrong, if electric cars are the future, and this enough to kill, or even cause our manufacturers to update their products less often, so they are no longer class leading, you have surrendered our lead in the autotmotive future for the sake of some kind of idealized vision of capitalism that no longer exists, if it ever really existed at all.

        • 0 avatar

          jeoff – – –

          “…you have surrendered our lead in the autotmotive [sic] future for the sake of some kind of idealized vision of capitalism that no longer exists, if it ever really existed at all.”

          As I asked: where are you from? And you didn’t answer.
          (A lot of respondents from Socialist Europe or similar, for example, visit essentially American vehicle websites, and lecture us about what they think we need from their own economically foolish myopic biases…Example: The British/French Concorde airplane.)

          America does not have an idealized version of capitalism. We have an actual messy version of it, barring national emergencies.

          I am not opposed to automotive leadership. But it needs to come fro individual companies, like Tesla-After-Subsidies. Let them stand on their own: it’ll help them get REALLY creative, — if they can cut the mustard at all..(^_^)…


          • 0 avatar

            Don’t know where Jeoff is from but I LIVE IN AMERICA. I don’t mind that you disagree but I find your tone arrogant. I think the tax incentives are correct for the times. We are on the cusp of electric cars becoming viable. So, when production goes up, technology advances and costs go down we won’t need the incentive anymore because electric cars will be priced competitively

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @NGOM: What industry has ever succeeded internationally without government intervention, subsidies or support?

            The D3 became dominant only after WWII. The Japaneses auto industry flourished only due to government support.

            The oil/petroleum industry, has a history of government support/intervention on its behalf.

            The aircraft and aerospace industry depends on government handouts, support and/or orders.

            And of course all of those organizations linked the purse of ‘national defense/security’.

            About the only industry that I can think of that operates according to free market principles is ticket scalping. And how many of you like how it operates?

            And for those who ‘knock’ ‘socialist Europe’ remember that their standard of living is now better than ours in many ways,that a number of those companies are also doing better economically, and that in many ways their citizens have greater individual freedoms (and rights).

          • 0 avatar

            NMOG—OK, you are serious about that…
            I am from a place called Georgia. It is located in southeastern United States. You can look it up in Wikipedia if you have never heard of it. Is my opinion more valuable now? Or do I need to take loyalty oath first? Just kidding, I know that wouldn’t work either. You will keep trying to define something about my background that would invalidate my opinions in your narrow little mind. Ask about my race, or religion, or my sexual-orientation—there has to be some reason my ideas are invalid—there has to be something (other than the possibility that you are wrong).

          • 0 avatar

            1) Blackcloud_9 – – –

            BC9: “I don’t mind that you disagree but I find your tone arrogant.”

            It’s not arrogant. It’s just patriotic, — and extols freedom and economic free enterprise. Ever hear of that? Am tired of socialist Euro-think being held up as a model for America.

            2) Arthur Dailey – – –

            AD: “What industry has ever succeeded internationally without government intervention, subsidies or support?”

            You’re kidding, right? — either that or you’re a big government liberal.
            Try these:
            1 Wal-Mart Stores
            2 Exxon Mobil
            3 Chevron
            4 Berkshire Hathaway
            5 Apple
            6 Phillips 66
            7 General Motors
            8 Ford Motor
            9 General Electric
            10 Valero Energy
            11 AT&T
            12 CVS/Caremark
            13 Fannie Mae
            14 UnitedHealth Group
            15 McKesson
            16 Verizon Communications
            17 Hewlett-Packard
            18 J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
            19 Costco Wholesale
            20 Express Scripts
            21 Bank of America Corp.
            22 Cardinal Health
            23 Intl. Business Machines
            24 Kroger
            25 Marathon Petroleum
            26 Citigroup
            27 Archer Daniels Midland
            28 AmerisourceBergen
            29 Wells Fargo
            30 Boeing
            31 Procter & Gamble
            32 Freddie Mac
            33 Home Depot
            34 Microsoft
            36 Target
            37 Walgreen
            38 Wellpoint
            39 Johnson & Johnson
            40 American Internatlonal Group
            41 State Farm Insurance
            42 MetLife
            43 PepsiCo
            44 Comcast
            45 United Technologies
            46 Google
            47 ConocoPhillips
            48 Dow Chemical
            49 Caterpillar
            50 United Parcel Service
            51 Pfizer
            52 Lowe’s
            53 Intel
            54 Energy Transfer Equity LP
            55 Cisco Systems
            56 Enterprise Product Partners LP
            57 Aetna
            58 Coca-Cola
            59 Lockheed Martin
            60 Best Buy
            61 Walt Disney
            62 CHS
            63 Sysco
            64 FedEx
            65 Merck
            66 Intl FC Stone
            67 Safeway
            68 Johnson Controls
            69 Ingram Micro
            70 Plains GP Holdings
            71 World Fuel Services
            72 Prudential Financial
            73 Humana
            74 Goldman Sachs
            75 Tesoro
            76 Liberty Mutual Ins. Group
            77 Honeywell
            78 United Continental Holdings
            79 HCA Holdings
            80 Deere
            81 Delta Airlines
            82 Oracle
            83 Morgan Stanley
            84 Hess
            85 20th Century Fox
            86 DuPont
            87 Sears Holdings
            88 New York Life Insurance
            89 Mondelez International
            90 American Express
            91 Nationwide
            92 Allstate
            93 Tyson Foods
            94 SuperValu
            95 TIAA-CREF
            96 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
            97 Cigna
            98 DIRECTV Group
            99 General Dynamics
            100 Philip Morris International

            3) Jeoff – – –

            J: “OK, you are serious about that…”
            Damn right I am, — for exactly the reasons I listed initially.

            J: “Is my opinion more valuable now? [i.e, being in Georgia]”
            Actually, yes. As I said, some people visit these sites with specious arguments and false data based on foreign biases. Just trying to screen out the chaff…

            J: “Ask about my race, or religion, or my sexual-orientation—there has to be some reason my ideas are invalid—there has to be something (other than the possibility that you are wrong)”

            I don’t care if you’re a$$ is green and your head is blue, — nor if you mate with crocodiles. This is not about me or you. Is free enterprise and the US Constitution wrong?

            Happy Veteran’s Day. Maybe you guys should remember what others fight for, and it certainly isn’t Socialism…


          • 0 avatar


            GM is on your list of companies which have succeeded “without government intervention, subsidies or support”.

            You’ve got to be f*cking kidding us.

            You do realize that GM was effectively nationalized in the last days of the GWB administration, and that the policy was continued through the early Obama administration?

            Many other companies on your list have benefitted greatly from government intervention of one kind or another. Everybody uses government-subsidized roads to move their products around, and hires employees educated in government-run public schools. The oil companies receive subsidies and worldwide military protection. The tech industry (including Apple and Microsoft) has a symbiotic relationship with governments sponsored research and universities. And, last but bot least, Lockheed Martin makes most of their money odd of government contracts — they are the Military-Industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about.

            In addition to what I mentioned above, I could write a paragraph about how two thirds of the companies on this list have symbiotic relationships with government — but my time is worth something, so I’ll only write the rest if asked, or if they become relevant to the discussion.

            But seriously, GM and Lockmart are on your list of companies which are successful ”without government intervention, subsidies or support”. Bwahahahahaha!

            LOL, except that the consequences of this level of naivete about now our society actually works are pretty serious.

          • 0 avatar

            Luke42 – – –

            L: “GM is on your list of companies which have succeeded “without government intervention, subsidies or support”.”

            Yup. You’re right. Gm got by me: remove it.


      • 0 avatar

        Japanese got it way wrong dude. Hydrogen is not free and it is pretty dirty and wasteful. Fuel cell catalyst is pretty expensive too. Unless you have plenty of nuclear power with no way to store them you don’t get hydrogen as a byproduct of any high temperature process.

        • 0 avatar

          PandaBear – – –

          H2 is NOW being made by on a practical basis by wind-powered hydrolysis of sea water…


      • 0 avatar

        My own view is the Japanese got it right: the ultimate future belongs to hydrogen. Or you can lookup Audi’s carbon-neutral e-gas process for a viable alternative:

        Hydrogen has waaaay to many intrinsic problems to be “the fuel of the future”

        1) While hydrogen’s energy to weight is excellent it’s energy to volume is terrible. The Toyota Mirai has 31 gallons of fuel storage capacity yet manages only 300 miles of range with mediocre performance.

        2) A hydrogen infrastructure does not yet exist, one must be built and that will not be cheap.

        3) This is the big one. There are NO natural reserves of hydrogen on earth, NONE! Water is no more a “reserve” of hydrogen than it (and CO2) is of gasoline. All hydrogen must be synthesized, usually from natural gas. Yes hydrogen can be created from water via electrolysis but that process requires lots of high grade electricity to generate and pressurize the gas. Putting those same joules into an EV battery would be much more efficient.

  • avatar

    If an industry can’t survive without a tax credit, then let it die.

    Now cue the ‘bbbbut what about oil company tax subsidies” nonsense. And yes it is nonsense. There are no oil company subsidies. What leftists always whine about are favorable expensing methods that oil companies use. The same methods that every other industry has available to them. There is no such thing as an oil company tax credit. And unlike Tesla, oil companies pay billions of dollars in taxes every year.

    If the greens really love the environment, let them pay full freight for their EVs.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Someone’s bound to jump on you about the national highway system and the DOD-subsidized internet days.

      • 0 avatar

        Hmm true. I remember well the $7500 Yahoo and Google tax credit.

        • 0 avatar


          “Hmm true. I remember well the $7500 Yahoo and Google tax credit.”

          Yahoo and Google are fairly late in the technological development of the Internet.

          What SCE to AUX is referring to are the early days of the Internet, back in the 1970s and 1980s when the core of it was called ARPANET:

          At that time, the Internet was a government-supported technological pipe dream. But all formed the basis for the modern Internet and the technologies developed (via government funding) paved the way for companies like Yahoo and Google. We still use many of protocols and designs from that era.

          The modern Internet began after NCSA Mosaic (and later Netscape Navigator/Mozilla/Firefox) came on the scene, and companies like Yahoo and Google, made information on the Internet accessible to normal people.

    • 0 avatar

      “There are no oil company subsidies.” . . . . . .
      From Wikipedia “A 2016 study estimated that global fossil fuel subsidies were $5.3 trillion in 2015, which represents 6.5% of global GDP.[3] The study found that “China was the biggest subsidizer in 2013 ($1.8 trillion), followed by the United States ($0.6 trillion), and Russia, the European Union, and India (each with about $0.3 trillion).”

      Grom Nationa Geographic . . . . . United States: Fossil Tax Breaks

      Drilling rigs are seen here lying in wait in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2001, but they’ve had little time to idle in recent years. The United States is amid an oil and natural gas boom, and its dependence on foreign energy imports is the lowest in 16 years.

      (Related: “U.S. Oil Fields Stage “Great Revival,” But No Easing Oil Prices”)

      Economists and historians will likely debate for years the reasons for this revival: How much was due to favorable free market conditions—and how much due to a helping hand from government?

      Case in point: Texas, birthplace of the shale gas boom, bestowed more than $1 billion in state severance tax exemptions on the natural gas industry in 2010, according to a survey of fossil-fuel subsidies in OECD member countries.

      Although most developed countries do not have the kind of direct and universal consumption subsidies seen in the big oil-exporting nations, tax breaks and other supports lessen the cost of production and consumption. In 2009, the G20 (“the group of 20” nations including the largest economies in the world), committed to phasing out these subsides. But no one had ever catalogued just how large this burden was. So OECD embarked on a first-of-its-kind inventory, and last fall produced its first reports. Although the OECD cautioned that the value and budget impact of subsidies varies widely from state to state (and did not even total the figures), the United States had the largest supports, totaling about $15 billion in 2010.

      With G20 leaders meeting today in Los Cabos, Mexico, environmentalists around the world plan demonstrations and a “twitterstorm” to raise awareness of fossil fuel subsidies. But global economic woes are likely to dominate the summit agenda.

      U.S. tax breaks, such as the expensing of exploration and development costs, make up about $5 billion of U.S. fossil fuel subsidies. President Barack Obama’s proposed 2013 budget would eliminate many of these, yet the proposed cuts are likely to be met with resistance in Congress. Measures that favor home-grown fossil fuel are a tradition as old as the American Republic. Soon after Congress was established and George Washington was sworn in as the first president in 1789, lawmakers enacted a 10 percent tariff on imported coal to give the domestic industry a leg up over British producers; it was the first U.S. fossil-fuel subsidy, but far from the last.

      Photograph by George Steinmetz, National Geographic
      Next: What You Don’t Know About Energy Subsidies

      Photograph by Noah Seelam, AFP/Getty Images

      PUBLISHED June 20, 2012


      Hmmmm, what source should I extend more credibility to these sources or astatement here on an commentary thread?

      • 0 avatar

        While there are undoubtedly oil subsidies, the global numbers cited by Wikipedia are likely bogus – the study is hidden behind a paywall so who knows what it includes. I suspect it includes the impact of all the pollution etc. that fossil fuels create – which is really a subsidy to the consumer. Indeed, the claimed 0.6 trillion in subsidies to the u.s. Industry is larger than total profits for the entire sector – suggesting the money is being passed to the consumer.

        “U.S. tax breaks, such as the expensing of exploration and development costs, make up about $5 billion of U.S. fossil fuel subsidies.” The way this is written suggests the author does not know what he is talking about. Of course costs are expensed – it’s the timing of the deductions which could be considered a subsidy.

        Linking a bunch of random quotes from the inter webs does not make a logical argument.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          I present the largest corporate subsidy ever introduced.

          The United States Navy. When all those tankers were leaving the gulf who do you think was providing safe passage? Iranian Navy? Egyptian?

          Please. Oil prices would be way different if the oil companies actually got a bill for security/safe passage.

          • 0 avatar

            Post of the day.

            And it’s not just oil – it’s EVERYTHING we import, and EVERYTHING we export using a floating ship.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…since that is where Europe and China seem to be going.”

    And they’re over there saying, “we should go electric, since that’s where the U.S. is going.”

    The whole thing is a house of cards.

    • 0 avatar

      No, they’re saying “we should go electric” because the air in Paris and Beijing is becoming hard to breathe.

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        “No, they’re saying “we should go electric” because the air in Paris and Beijing is becoming hard to breathe.”

        Pollution in European cities is the result of over-reliance on diesels.

        Air pollution in China pre-dates the popularity of cars. It was a poor communist country with virtually no regulations on industrial pollution.

        American cities have large numbers of ICE cars and no significant air pollution. Modern ICE cars are extremely clean with respect to real pollutants.

        • 0 avatar

          “American cities have large numbers of ICE cars and no significant air pollution. ”

          I call utter, complete bulls**t on that one.

          And, no, you can’t lay that entirely at the feet of motor vehicles. But they CERTAINLY play a huge role.

  • avatar

    It is hard to predict where battery technology is going. Nevertheless, it seems extremely likely that dense, noisy, congested large cities all over the world will mandate electric vehicles at some point. In central London and Paris, we likely will see virtually no internal combustion engine vehicles 25 years from today. The rest of the world will take the lead.

    Meanwhile back in the US, surely Republicans will try outlaw anything that does not pollute or discriminate.

    • 0 avatar

      And if this happens in 25 years there will be a demand for tens of millions of EVs. Why do you need a tax credit to make it happen? It’s hilarious how the left claims there is this gigantic demand out there for “green” energy, but unless the govt pays for it, the entire industry will die. EVs, wind power, solar power, you name it.

      If it’s as popular as you claim, it should be able to survive without my tax dollars.

      And if the rest of the world takes the lead, then American companies will jump in. That’s how capitalism works. Where there is profit to be made, new entrants join the market. It’s been happening for oh, I dunno, a few hundred years.

      Who was the leading auto manufacturer 40 years ago? GM. Who is it today? Not GM. See how that works?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “It is hard to predict where battery technology is going.”

      Not really. It’s incrementally improving lithium ion technology with reduced mfg costs, and that’s about it.

      All the pie-in-the-sky promises of battery breakthroughs are just words today, and even if one existed, it would be many years and billions of dollars to scale production to make a dent in lithium ion – even if there was a customer for it.

      • 0 avatar

        Hey – I know 2 guys working in their garage that have just created a new battery technology that weighs 5 pounds per 1000 miles of range, can be recharged in 3 minutes with normal household current, has a life of 10 million recharging cycles, works equally well at -50 to +150F and everything in between, is made entirely from sand and air with an easy to manufacture process. They believe that with volume production this 1000 mile battery will sell for $1.98 retail, and if they can get a few million in government subsidies to complete some additional minor testing it can be ready for production in only another 3 to 5 years.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The prospect of the EV subsidy drying up, *combined* with the production delays and other concerns I have about Tesla’s Model 3, may actually push me into a different EV sooner.

    It’s interesting that the fight over the tax credit is occurring just as it’s about to evaporate for the leading EV mfrs anyway. The question isn’t really about Tesla, Nissan, or GM, but what will the laggards do whose EV quantity is nowhere near the 200k production threshold?

    The greenies (which I am not) need to find a better way to argue for the continuation of this subsidy.

  • avatar

    Most of those waiting for the Tesla Model 3 (all 500,000) are committed to electric cars and would not likely buy gas powered. There is a lot more to auto costs except the sticker price, and electrics have a big advantage everywhere you look – fuel costs lesss than a third of a gas powered car, no spending for oil changes, the inevitable new exhaust system, perhaps a transmission rebuild, cooling system flushes and refills, etc. And they are just nicer, more pleasant cars to drive. They are also much quicker than an equivalent gas powered job. They are even more comvenient to refuel – if you live in a detached house and don’t need to depend upon public charge stations. And driving ranges are, at 250 miles plus, usually long enough, and recharge speeds fast enough,that even trips present no particular obstacles.
    Elon Musk of Tesla has said he does not want govt subsidies. In fact, Tesla should be jumping for joy at the destruction of the $7500 Fed tax credits. His company is about to exhaust its credits and the upcoming competitors would all have theirs, and a $7500 price advantage against Tesla vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      250 miles is adequate range as long as you stay within 100 miles of home. Even so, my wife and I have had 100+ mile days without getting more than 20 miles from home. On long trips, my goal is to average 5 mph below the speed limit, including stops, without going faster than 5 mph above the limit. That doesn’t leave much time for stops. Three quarters of an hour to recharge after just three hours on the road makes my goal mathematically impossible. Even a Tesla Supercharger can’t do it fast enough.

      • 0 avatar

        @kendahl The next generation of cars have 350kW charging capability and companies are already starting to deploy 350 to 400kW chargers. They’ll give you 200 miles in around 10 minutes with a 300+ mile range car. I think Tesla will be upgrading their systems as well. It’s only at the higher on cars like the Mission E to start with, but will trickle down.

    • 0 avatar

      > electrics have a big advantage everywhere you look

      You left out a front trunk, a low center of gravity that does wonderful things for the ride/handling balance, quietness, no driveline/exhaust hump, more rear trunk space without a gas tank or muffler, faster acceleration than many sports cars, etc.

  • avatar

    A non-subsidized hybrid is probably “greener” than a coal-powered* EV by some measures, too.

    (* If the US had a real nuclear power infrastructure, that would be far “greener” in every meaningful sense than both the existing coal plants, marginally better than NG, and far better than windmills-and-solar-panels dreaming that relies on the other two for base capacity.

    But radiophobic hippies don’t care, because “Chernobyl and Fukushima!!!” and “I have no idea what reprocessing even means” and ideas about nuclear waste products based on The Simpsons.*

    The *serious* greens have already made the switch to supporting nuclear power.

    * If I sound bitter, it’s because I am.)

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      The argument against nuclear is its continuing cost. The old ‘rods’ need to be stored, safely and securely for nearly an eternity.

      And who pays for that?
      And for the clean-up/closure of old/outdated/closed down nuclear plants.

      Based on their overall costs, nuclear plants are untenable. The citizens of Ontario discovered this to their dismay about a decade ago. Better to burn garbage than to go nuclear.

  • avatar

    Since our military is mainly tasked with fighting wars regarding oil, and protecting oil distribution networks, perhaps we could add its cost to the price of a gallon of gas. Then we could discuss ending EV credits on an equal footing.

    You want energy independence: oil is used almost exclusively to power cars. Electrical generation is purely domestic policy.

    This, the lives of our young people, and the squandering of our national treasure, are the underlying implications of this discussion.

    • 0 avatar

      Oil needs of the u.s. could soon be met by Mexico and Canada – the military will need to create a new excuse for their exploits.

      U.S. electrical generation is not purely domestic policy – some electricity is imported from Canada.

  • avatar

    This is more about politics than cars. If Trump can take any action to raise the price of oil and coal stocks for one quarter, he’s done his job.

    My response to the uncertainty over these tax credits was to jump in and take advantage. My Ford Energi has cut my fuel use by over one-half, compared to my old 28 mpg GTI. The savings are greater than I expected, even accounting for the $20 of electric shore power it takes each month for nightly recharges. I can hardly wait to sign my tax returns for 2017.

    Yes, I’m an environmentalist. And a car guy. But I’m also Scottish as my surname, and I appreciate a bargain. Here’s an opportunity that might not come again.

  • avatar

    @Wheatridger – We’d still be over there protecting the distribution of oil, even if we didn’t use a drop of it. What’s really being protected over there is the continued distribution of the US Dollar.

    If we “pull out” of the region, the USD becomes worthless confetti, $100,000+ for a loaf of bread, headed to a million. Things will get purdy ugly when that happens. I hope you speak fluent Mandarin.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re saying about China what others said about Japan 40 years ago. The US could no longer compete and Japan would be the economic superpower. Ten years later, their economy was in the doldrums and it has yet to fully recover. If anything, China’s economy is less solid than Japan’s was back then.

    • 0 avatar

      *BREAKING NEWS* Trump performs vigorous fellatio on Chinese President Xi Jinping – we’re talking the whole shibang folks!

      He did not bow, but HE DID SWALLOW!!!


      From tough campaign talk on China to an all nude lap dance!

      Art of The Deal!!

  • avatar

    Weren’t these subsidies always sold as temporary just to get the market “off the ground”?

    I think it’s well established that EV vehicles are “off the ground” and selling to mass market consumers now.

    So how about ending the corporate welfare?

  • avatar

    If automakers are committed, and due to CAFE pressure, they’ll sell for a loss, and make it up selling SUVs that buyers want anyway.

    For GM specifically, China has a 20% mandate in just 7 years and China is a vital market – so GM and other global makers will follow the money and regulation.

    • 0 avatar

      Simple solution – for every sub 25 mpg vehicle sold (I.e. All pickups), make the manufacturers sell an EV. Let those buying $50,000 pickups subsidies the EV buyers!

      • 0 avatar

        No but the biggest gains would come from EV pickups, and each one of these would take the place of 2 EV compacts.

        Much of industry/utilities/fleets have ample overnight parking plus 220v or 3-phase power, but little use for EV compacts.

      • 0 avatar

        “Simple solution – for every sub 25 mpg vehicle sold (I.e. All pickups), make the manufacturers sell an EV. Let those buying $50,000 pickups subsidies the EV buyers!”

        That’s basically the idea behind CAFE, which turns out to be messy, and easily gamed, in practice.

        I’d rather repeal CAFE and the income tax, and replace both with a carbon tax.

        But it’ll never happen, because that will cause actual structural changes to the economy — which is scary to most people

  • avatar

    I have to take a bit of exception to the author’s statement that “Tesla certainly doesn’t want it gone” in regards to the incentive.

    Musk has gone on record, multiple times, saying that he’d prefer the incentives DO go away as it hurts Tesla more than it helps them. Had you bothered reading any of his quarterly conference calls, you know this to be true.

    “So Tesla’s competitive advantage improves as the incentives go away. This continues to be something that is not well understood.” – Elon Musk

    Musk has long believed and feels strongly that the incentives are more important for the well-being of his competitors than it is to Tesla…so he’d like them gone.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      He might be rethinking that when his cars (Model 3) have price parity with the competition.

      The Tesla brand has as many negatives as positives, and buyers looking for a $40k EV will certainly be swayed by a $7500 tax incentive, especially if it only applies to certain mfrs as the program sunsets.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The reality is most EU and Asian countries will move more quickly in the direction of EVs, no different than their adoption of mass transit.

    Congestion is the reason and the economics of it all. It will be cheaper for them.

    The US (and Oz, NZ, Canada) are larger vehicle countries and the cost of a fullsize or even midsize vehicle (not just pickups) will make EVs unreachable for most. Distance travelled is also a major player. If you need to recharge more frequently EV ownership becomes more onerous. Convinience is the key and until an EV can be recharged in 5 minutes they will remain a green nerdy gadget.

    Cheaper and affordable EVs will be small.

  • avatar

    I think there’s a missed opportunity here to do a good data-based article. From reading search results for a while now, I don’t see any really good articles which make truly comprehensive analyses of the total economic costs of EV vs. ICE cars (MSRP, incentives (with and without tax credit, maintenance, depreciation, battery replacement, fuel, insurance,etc). Seems like most articles only look at some of these.

    Extra credit for calculating cradle-to-grave economic and environmental costs.

    (I have a feeling real environmentalists are driving old, repairable cars or motorcycles)

    • 0 avatar

      I was expecting a Timothy Cain article after the headline.

      I already miss the guy!

    • 0 avatar

      Here is one analysis based mostly on peer reviewed studies that shows the environmental and economic failure of EVs

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Look elsewhere. Studies of this nature abound, and you’ll find there is no consensus on the answer.

      • 0 avatar

        There is lots of consensus – EVs at best offer only marginal environmental benefits unless your electricity is near 100% renewable, and any studies finding better results are typically assuming some combination of much faster changeover to renewables than is reasonably possible AND/OR only focusing only local pollutants (i.e. moving emissions from city centers to outlying power plants and not considering manufacturing or scrapping related emissions) AND/OR development of much cleaner batteries (which don’t currently exist). The more you look in to it, the more it becomes apparent that EVs are not going to save the planet, and may actually have negative impact because coal is not going away, and mass battery scrapping is likely to be far dirtier than anyone is currently contemplating.

        • 0 avatar

          Stingray – interesting article. I don’t totally agree with the authors interpretation/generalization of some of the peer reviewed papers but it’s a reasonable approach. Certainly environmental benefits of EVs are tied to the impact of power… I think all of the authors in the work end up recommending to persue clean power to improve EV benefit.

          My first point, though, was to look at EV buying from a consumer POV and see if the loss of the credit would impact their likelihood to buy an EV. I’m sure I’m not the only one who uses a spreadsheet to calculate my own cost-to-own when making a buying decision (note this has not precluded fun cars… a used E85 Z4 is remarkably inexpensive right now).

          • 0 avatar

            From the consumer POV the EV can make sense in part because of the subsidies, but the subsidies are in place because some politicians and environmentalists think EVs are cleaner and that bribing consumers to buy them will provide significant environmental benefits. Take away the reason for the subsidies, then the subsidies should also disappear in a rational world, but then the EV market tends to dry up and the automakers that have made multi-billion dollar EV investments are not happy.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    From what I understand, the &7500 tax credit is base on your income. Not everyone will qualify for it. Initial proclamations from that august body, the U.S. House of Representatives are about as believable as a happy hour crew doing shots at the bar and talking smack. The U.S. Senate might, and probably will, have a much different tax proposal. For those who say the oil companies don’t get subsidies; you can bite an Iraq War veteran’s ass.

    • 0 avatar

      “the &7500 tax credit is base on your income. Not everyone will qualify for it.”

      That’s my understanding as well. People with acquired wealth but low income who do not have to file a tax return, would not qualify for the tax credit.

      Ironically, that demographic (people with acquired wealth but low income) often will lease an EV as a toy and social status symbol.

      • 0 avatar

        If you lease then GM et al. claim the tax credit and knock $7500 off the MSRP when calculating the payments, so it doesn’t matter what your tax filing status is.

      • 0 avatar

        People with acquired wealth make PLENTY of money, HDC. They just make it on things like dividends and interest, or capital gains from selling their equities.

        I see it every day.

        • 0 avatar
          Felix Hoenikker

          Yes, and this income is taxed at regular rates except for long term capital gains and tax free bonds and Roth IRA withdrawals.

        • 0 avatar

          FreedMike, yes you are right.

          And I should have been more precise in my comment, as in people who have gone Liquid (as in Cash), and/or in Assets (like real and chattel) but whose taxable income is low, like those of retired military (many who fall below the “must-file” 1040 cut-off.)

          SocSec is rarely taxable unless total taxable income plus 1/2 of all SocSec payouts exceeds $32K, or there abouts.

          I/We used to be that way, until my wife was forced to take payouts from her FERS and CSRS accounts that had been fermenting for decades, based on her career Civil-Service days over the past 4+ decades.

          Now she/we have to pay a staggering amount in taxes based on her retirement income of $84K+ per year PLUS the forced payouts driven by the rising stock market.

          It’s a good thing that all of those payouts are taxpayer bucks, not something that we had to actually contribute into — those contributions were repaid to us a long, long time ago.

          • 0 avatar

            Rich folks don’t want their money in “cash.” They want it in equities. You make more money with the latter. If you have, say, $3 million in cash assets, FDIC only covers a small portion of that in the case of a bank failure.

            One of the major problems I have with the cap gains tax isn’t necessarily that it’s lower, but that it gives people with tons of assets absolutely no incentive whatsoever to invest in actual working businesses. Instead, they just invest it in equities, and let their financial advisors just churn it around on Wall Street. If their portfolios are diversified, there’s little risk, and they pay 14% taxes on the profits, versus 35% if it was any other type of income.

            I get why they do it, and if I were in that position, I’d probably do the same, but the money needs to be taken OFF the sidelines and put in the game already.

          • 0 avatar

            Not everyone thinks about making more money. Even rich folks will sink much of their wealth in tangible assets, not necessarily folding money.

            Precious metals and Gems are always good “cash” havens, especially if the person already has hundred of thousands in cash money.

            As I grow older, I am truly amazed at some of the financial strategies of friends and family who actually keep enormous sums of cash money in their possession.

            Maybe they just stuff their mattresses to keep the feds from tracking their wealth.

            Yes, if all that “loose” money is taken off the sidelines and put to proper use, it would greatly stimulate the economy.

            I got out of the stock market, CDs and bonds in mid-2008 at the urging of my Merrill-Lynch broker (a retired USAF Lt Col). Glad I did. GM stock was worth a ton of money back then.

            My wife’s dad, an old-country German, was a cash-hoarder. He used to come around and give each of his four daughters grocery bags full of money. He owned more than 47 homes because real-estate worked for him.

            So not every one is suited for the broker investments. And some people prefer the cash-only economy.

            Trying to bridge those financial avenues is what got Paul Manafort, and others, into deep water.

            Not to mention the cooperation of the Swiss banks with the US-IRS in revealing the hidden overseas accounts of Americans.

            Sometimes a low profile is the best profile. Hence cash.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      “For those who say the oil companies don’t get subsidies; you can bite an Iraq War veteran’s ass.”

      Thanks for VOLUNTEERING.

  • avatar
    el scotto It’s a longish read and tugboats??!! There were costs for bringing that oil out.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I can see the interest in wee electric cars in dense urban settings but that’s it. They will not work where I live or where I have to get to on a daily basis. In the city near me ( Calgary ) is a company called Car2Go. They have many little SMRT cars scattered all over the place and a commensurate ‘app’ for users. A woman I know, who owns a WRX STi sedan, uses Car2Go to get to work daily. It’s cheaper than the bus/LRT because the company has free parking downtown. Even with a free EV this system cannot be beat, as parking downtown can easily be CDN$900/month.

    • 0 avatar

      Wee electric cars are far from the only option.

      Tesla makes big/fast electric cars. Nissan makes wee electric cars.

      If an EV fits your needs and your budget, you get to take your pick.

  • avatar

    Well, it’s very clear what happened when tax credits were abandoned in Denmark:

    My state in Norway has a 25%+ EV share (lots of ferries and toll roads; both are free for EVs). I am in no doubt at all that when all the free goodies (no sales tax on cars – 40-80% of the total in Norway, free parking, free ferries, EV lanes, free charging) disappear, so will the market. I don’t see EVs becoming a fully equal alternative just yet, so if people want them, more starting help is needed.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s because Denmark gave out an huge tax break on them. From the story you posted:

      “Sales have plunged in Denmark because of the 2015 announcement that tax breaks for electric cars would be phased out. Previously, ECVs were not subject to Denmark’s usual 180 percent import tax for vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine.”

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The Denmark thing is an extreme example due to the extreme tax levy applied to imported vehicles, as you know.

      Naturally, reducing the tax-inflated price of a good to 36% of the normal value will invigorate sales. Removing the tax relief has the opposite effect.

      Here in the US, the $7500 incentive amounts to 5-25%, not 64% like it was in Denmark.

      Denmark would probably have seen a less dramatic shock to the EV movement if the incentives hadn’t been so dramatic to begin with.

      • 0 avatar

        Denmark and Norway also provide a lesson on the size of subsidies necessary to get consumers to buy an EV in significant numbers. I’d buy a Tesla also if I could get the $100,000 subsidy that Tesla buyers get in Norway and used to get in Denmark. In Norway a nicely equipped BMW 540i is about twice the Tesla Model S price because of high purchase taxes on gasoline and diesel cars, plus the Tesla buyer can use the bus lanes, gets free road tolls, and parking, pays no annual road taxes and lower business car taxes. So all the US has to do to copy Norway is raise the taxes on new gasoline and diesel cars by 100%, and then give the money back to Tesla and Leaf buyers. I’m sure GM, Ford, and Toyota will be 100% behind such a move so they can sell more EVs and less of those dirty disgusting pickups and SUVs.

        • 0 avatar

          In Denmark, a normal gas powered car is taxed so much that it costs almost the same as an untaxed Tesla Model S.

          You called waiving the 180% vehicle tax for EVs “a subsidy”, but that’s not really very descriptive. The situation in Denmark (both with and without waiving the tax on EVs) is something that most Americans would consider completely artificial. It’s not comparable to anything that the most radical Green Party members here in America would propose with a straight face.

          There are examples which can help your argument, but Denmark is not one of them.

  • avatar

    The ethanol lobby cannot be reached for comment, but I’m still waiting for the successful transition from corn to cellulosic ethanol that was supposed to happen years ago. The argument was that corn was used just to get the industry going and the switch from wasteful corn ethanol to real cellulosic ethanol would happen quickly.

    There was a reported sawgrass or switchgrass success down in GA a few years back but that was fraud and they were really using corn. The alchemists still can’t make it work but king corn is very happy forcing unwanted corn juice on everyone due to guv mandates.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe those ethanol subsidies were also supposed to be “temporary” until it became cost competitive with fossil fuels. Mandated big increases in ethanol use as a motor fuel were supposed to bring needed economies of scale, but also brought big increases in demand for ethanol raw material: corn. Then a funny thing happened: corn prices went way up and made ethanol an even more uneconomic motor fuel, which requires continuing subsidies so that Archer Daniels Midland can stay in business. Supply and Demand – wonder when politicians will figure that out.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I occasionally assisted another grad student with his PhD thesis experiments on the conversion of cellulosic wastes to ethanol. That was in 1979.

  • avatar

    The statement “coal is not going away” – well, perhaps not immediately and absolutely, but its future (Trump or no Trump) is akin to that of the horse-and-buggy. Both its economics, and the associated widely known negative health effects of its burning – are major contributors to its shrinking importance.

    • 0 avatar

      Hell, just mining the stuff can be an environmental disaster.

    • 0 avatar

      vehic1 – you don’t have a clue. Coal is going to be the number one or two fuel for electricity generation for decades to come. Its the cheapest and most widely available fuel in most of Asia, Africa, and large parts of Europe. The EIA projects coal use growth in most of the world through 2050, although I expect their projections will be low if the world keeps shutting down nuclear plants.

      • 0 avatar

        ” Coal is going to be the number one or two fuel for electricity generation for decades to come”

        Coal is often used for cooking and heating by individuals as well. Add up all those individual households that still use coal for cooking and heating, and that’s a lot of coal. But still dirt cheap.

        Been to coal country in the US lately? How about rural China, rural India, rural Africa? A lot of people still use coal.

        Coal will be with us…. until we run out of it.

  • avatar

    It seems to be agreed problem. Not greed from the American consumer, but greed from the car manufactures. These guys can build a car for $30000, but can’t seem to build the same Powered car for less money by offering less features inside the vehicle. For far too long the car manufacturers have been building cars with features benefits that a lot of people just don’t want let alone need. Thinking figure out a way to make the car less expensive because for far too long they’ve been relying on the government to help them with their sales.

    On another note just because parts of Europe and China say that they’re going to have only electric vehicles in their sStreets, doesn’t mean that they cannot that those vehicles cannot be produced here in the United States and exported.

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