Idiosyncrasies Of Connecticut EV Rebates — The Politics Of Dealerships & State EV Incentives?

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Connecticut state EV rebates have again changed dramatically and without warning.

As of October 15th, 2018, the fully electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) requirements are increasing and the max rebate amount for a BEV is being decreased. On the face of it, this could be seen as a natural expression of the maturation of the EV market and good dynamic state policy. The specifics and timing are not so sweet smelling, however, and may be due to some dealerships having a very powerful voice in the state.

The max BEV rebate has now gone from $3,000 to $2,000. This reduction is paired with the maximum MSRP eligible dropping from $60,000 to $50,000 and the range requirement increasing from 175 to 200 miles. Taking these parameters into consideration and in combination with the fact that Connecticut (CT) is a state that still will not allow Tesla to have a sales office, thing look a bit off. The maximum eligible MSRP of $60,000 in 2017 and prior meant that the Tesla offerings of the S and X were not eligible. Now, with the Tesla Model 3, the maximum MSRP has been dropped to $50,000, which nearly put Tesla out of the running.

In the past 2 years, the criteria have been progressively increasing in stringency, but all the while being similar to what Chevy has on offer. For example, the PHEV requirements were increased to milage >40 miles when the Volt range went from 38 to 54 miles. Then the BEV requirements were increased to 175 miles as the Bolt was being released in 2017 and the Nisan Leaf was still <150 miles.

So, is this good policy, a bit of a favor to a dealer network, or a bit of both?

The one good part of the CT state rules is that the incentive for PHEVs is being reduced. However, I will never understand why the CT has retained the fuel cell rebate at $5,000? Where is that money going?

This new rule leaves a lot of room for Hyundai and Kia to get a jump on the game, if they can get their vehicles to market now. However, the 200+ mile range Audi, Jaguar, and Mercedes will not be eligible due to their MSRP >$50,000 and they will have to rely solely on the federal tax credit. Also, VW, Nisan, BMW, Ford, Smart, and Fiat will also not be eligible due to their range falling short of the 200-mile mark. So, the only cars that fit the bill of >200 mile range and an MSRP $50,000 or under are the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3 Mid Range. The Tesla M3 Mid Range eligibility is most certainly unintentional, as the Mid Range was only announced after Oct 15th, 2018, when the regulation changed.

When I got my Bolt in May 2017, the Chevy dealer was very savvy with the state forms and really got my $3,000 cash back at the dealer the day of purchase, therefore reducing the cash I needed upfront to buy the car on the day of the sale. For our Tesla, we had to go to Mt. Kisco, New York, for delivery and they are not allowed to give you the cash back at the dealership. So, we had to front the cash and wait for the cash back. Tesla said it was filing the paperwork the day of the purchase, but I have no confirmation on that. I am very relieved that our $59,000 MSRP Tesla M3 was delivered 9/29/18 and still eligible for the $3,000, but I still have not seen my CT state rebate check. We shall see if it ever comes, and I will not hold my breath.

The whole CT state EV rebate program (CHEAPER) looks on the surface like a great green incentive program, but there is a whiff of backroom political cigar smoke to the implementation of the program. Who gets the money and who benefits are always interesting themes for high drama. Climate change is drama enough for me and I could do without the other political shenanigans. I really hope that the whole planet will benefit in the end, but the Chevy dealers want some too.

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