Recently, Georgia State Representative Todd Jones (R – South Forsyth) introduced HB 732, which would reinstate the state’s tax credit for electric vehicles. If the bill is made law, the tax credit would be $2,500 for new electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and zero-emission vehicles. The state of Georgia had an EV tax credit of $5,000 but it was ended in 2015. Representative Jones answered some questions about his proposed legislation for CleanTechnica.
1. Why did you introduce House Bill 732 and why is it important?
This bill will rebalance the state’s electric vehicle (EV) policy after Georgia swung from one extreme to another in 2015. Previous to 2015, Georgia’s tax credit was $5,000 on the sale or lease of alternative fueled vehicles, and some of my colleagues thought that the credit was too rich – that it was being manipulated by citizens to get a “free car.” In 2015, the passage of the Transportation Funding Act eliminated the state tax credit and simultaneously imposed an annual EV “road user” fee, which started at $200 and is already nearly $220 per year. Here’s Marketplace coverage citing the 90% decline in EV sales following the enactment of the 2015 TFA. 10,540 EVs sold in Georgia in 2014 and 1,829 EVs sold in Georgia from the repeal date, which equals a 90% market decline.
The simple, reasonable approach of House Bill 732 is a maximum state tax credit of $2,500 that only applies to EVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and zero-emissions vehicles, and automatically sunsets in 2023, the year by which most automobile manufactures have pledged to fully electrify or nearly fully electrify their U.S. new car fleets. Currently, automakers are introducing 120 new EV models every year around the world, and new EV sales in the U.S. are expected to top 1M by 2025. House Bill 732 anticipates that electrification is not just a trend but a massive, long-term market opportunity for the State of Georgia, and provides a bridge, if you will, to balance our EV policy in the short-term so that we are best positioned to take advantage of opportunities to lead in EV manufacturing, research & development, sales, fleet operations, etc., and to capture that market share.
In addition to the rebalancing of Georgia’s policies around electrification and transportation, this bill is also about economic development. We know that OEMs like Volvo, Volkswagen, GM and Jaguar Land Rover have pledged to go all-electric across their fleets. Norway, France, the UK and China have set goals or mandates that all new cars sold will be zero emissions by 2040. We know without question that Autonomous Vehicles (AV) are all-electric. In 2015, automakers spent $104.7 billion globally on R&D for AVs. In comparison, the aerospace and defense industries, combined, spent less than a fourth of that, about $21.8 billion.
Georgia wants a share of this “advanced mobility” global investment. We are already the Car Capital of the South, home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche NA headquarters, and the only KIA manufacturing plant in the U.S. And the proximity of Georgia and the Atlanta area to the Southeastern manufacturing of popular models from brands like BMW, Hyundai, Kia and VW is only part of the picture. In 2017, Georgia Gov. Deal signed legislation to allow AV testing in Georgia, a hands-off approach which has allowed Waymo and others to expand their own operations.
We can not afford to miss out on this investment and to cede our position as the nation’s leader in business, in innovation and in transportation.
2. What are some of the next steps in the legislative process for it?
House Bill 732 was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.
3. If Georgia residents want to support it, what can they do?
Make your opinions known! Advocate to your neighbors, on social media, houses of worship and anyone who will listen. We need to work together to advocate that Georgia can become the most innovative place to do business in the USA. This is only a first step.
4. Can Georgia again become a plug-in hybrid electric, electric, and zero emission vehicles (ZEV) leader?
Certainly, we are already the #1 state in the country for business and we are becoming the #1 state for innovation.
5. In your media advisory it says, “the total annual cost to power an EV is only $540, which is spent on ‘home-grown’ electricity and invested back into the state…” Is that a reference to electricity produced within Georgia versus oil imported from outside the US?
Yes, absolutely, this is an opportunity for our utilities, like Georgia Power and the electric cities, to sell homegrown electricity to power the cleanest form of transportation that we have at our fingertips.
6. The bill includes tax credits for EV charging stations. If the bill passes and a Georgia resident purchases both a new EV and a home charging station, then would the total credits equal $3,000?
Yes, but the credits have an annual aggregate cap of $10M, and the cost of the credit to the State of Georgia will never exceed that cap.
7. Could the proposed Georgia state tax credit be combined with the federal EV tax credit?
8. Do you have personal experience driving a plug-in hybrid or EV?
Yes, I drove a Nissan Leaf for several years and am currently in the process of acquiring a Tesla Model 3.
9. Are your fellow Republicans as interested in the tax credit as you are, or do you see the bill as more non-partisan?
House Bill 732 is smart economic development and transportation technology policy, and it should appeal to my colleagues from both sides of the aisle. Georgians benefit every day from successful state tax credits in film, manufacturing, and tourism, that create jobs, revenues, R&D opportunities and attract other businesses to locate here. This bill is a moderate, limited return to an EV state tax credit that will contribute to the state’s dominance and momentum in automobile manufacturing – and now EV battery manufacturing – with the $2B battery plant investment by SK.
Additional Info on Solar in Georgia
Additional info for question re: “homegrown power,” FYI Georgia is tenth in the nation for solar. These numbers are Georgia Power solar only, and only within the confines of the 3-year IRP planning process:
- pre-2012, only about 55 MW of solar associated with Georgia Power
- 2013 IRP, Georgia Power alone brought on 525 MW of solar
- 2016 IRP, Georgia Power alone brought 1525 MW.
Of course, Georgia Power has done more outside of the IRP, and additional solar is coming online via the EMCs.
Image Credit: Todd Jones