Georgia legislators can’t seem to make up their minds about EVs. Just days after a trio of Republican state legislators introduced a bill that would let Tesla sell up to 1,500 vehicles a year directly to consumers, one of those same lawmakers, Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), has proposed to eliminate the state’s $5,000 tax credit for EV buyers.
Georgia ranked fourth in the US in EV registrations last year – as of November, 1.1 percent of new vehicle registrations in 2013 were EVs, according to Edmunds.com. This surprisingly strong showing in a state that’s more commonly associated with pickup trucks is surely a product both of Atlanta’s brutal commutes and of the state’s generous tax incentive, the richest in the region (Tennessee offers a $2,500 rebate, South Carolina has a $1,500 tax credit, and Mississippi, Florida and North Carolina offer nada).
Martin, who drives a Kia hybrid, said he’s all for EVs, but believes the tax credit has done what it was intended to do, and further taxpayer support isn’t needed. “We’ve accomplished our task, [EVs] are becoming mass-marketable, there are charging stations around the city and the state,” he said. “[EVs] are cost-competitive, and now it’s time for the business to make it on its own. If the economics don’t make sense without the tax credits, and automakers wish to keep selling the cars, they’ll have to get leaner.”
Martin also says the credit is too targeted, as it covers only zero-emission vehicles, not plug-ins or hybrids.
Michael Beinenson, treasurer of the EV Club of the South, agrees that the current credit is too narrow in scope, and suggests broadening it to also include PHEVs and public charging equipment. Instead of eliminating the incentive, he proposes sunsetting it over the next three years. “As the number of vehicles grows in the state of Georgia, the credit should have some sort of decrease,” Beinenson said.