Electric car incentive in MA?

The all-electric Nissan Leaf will be available in MA by end of 2011.  The federal incentive is $7500.  Some regions and states, including California, offer additional incentives up to $5,000.  What is MA planning to do in order to encourage electric vehicles?

3 replies on “Electric car incentive in MA?”

  1. Will, if I may be briefly contrary, the hybrid/electric car subsidy has long bugged me. It seems a bit like “picking winners”, and it seems disproportionately large given the relative fuel consumption reduction, compared to the alternatives (alternative means of reducing fuel consumption, alternative subsidies for other energy savings).

    And here, for alternatives, I imagine everything from an efficient subcompact automobile, to a bicycle. Say you do 7500 miles of city driving in a year, say your existing car gets 25mpg city — so, 300 gallons of gasoline, that you can avoid buying with an e-car (but you would instead consume more electricity). Assume we get to count 10 years of fuel savings — that’s still $2.50/gallon ! Viewed as a cost to government, it is higher than that, because the e-car has all the expenses it ever did (wear-and-tear on infrastructure, taking up space on crowded roads and parking lots) but will not pay any gasoline taxes.

    A bicycle will not displace all your city miles (I displace about 2500), but quite-nice commuting bicycles cost between $1000 and $3000 ($1850 frame, plus nice parts). “Quite nice” means, with lights, internal gears, chain case and fenders to keep your work clothes clean, and a basket or rack or platform to carry “stuff”. 3 people like me, subsidized at $2500 each for our fancy cargo bikes, saves the same amount of gasoline, takes little space on the roads, little space to park, and won’t wear out infrastructure. We’re also much quieter and less scary to the people around us, plus we should have (in aggregate) lower health care costs.

    Now, obviously, it would be absurd to subsidize my bike to the tune of $2500, but it appears to be no less absurd than subsidizing an e-car at $7500.

    Anyone (not Will) reading this, wondering what I think a good commuting/cargo bike might be, can go look at any of the following websites: xtracycle.com, cetmacargo.com, yubaride.com, madsencycles.com. Yes, they are trying to sell you their bikes, but they deal with the primary practical objections to not driving (“how do I carry all my kids/stuff?”). The bikes aren’t cheap, because the bikes aren’t toys, and their market is not yet that large (in this country). But, even a $100 Craigslist mountain bike, plus fenders, fat slick tires, a basket, and good handlebars and seat, will do for quite a lot of commuting.

  2. I’m commuting on that $100 Craigslist mountain bike.

    Fair point, David. Actually, in at least one version of that sales tax bill, I included bikes. But you are right that we are picking winners and losers and a nice small conventional gasoline engine is pretty efficient. Most cars today are vastly overpowered — driving excitement at the expense of mileage.

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