Connecticut offers “cash-on-the-hood” rebates for plug-in purchases

Connecticut Grunge Flag

Connecticut, one of 14 states that have adopted California’s clean-air standards, has set a goal of putting 300,000 zero-emission and hybrid vehicles on the state’s roads by 2025. To further that aim, it has established an incentive program with a new wrinkle: instead of having to apply for a rebate after buying a new vehicle, consumers receive “cash on the hood.”

The Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program has budgeted $1 million for rebates of $750 to $3,000 per electrified vehicle, depending on battery size. In another twist, car dealers get to keep $150 to $300 of each rebate, in order to motivate salespeople to promote plug-ins.

“We’re a small state, but we have some big ideas, and maybe we can show California how to do this,” said Jim Fleming, President of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association. “It’s a bit of an experiment. We decided to model it on what works. And what works is what manufacturers do now when they want to provide an incentive. Cash on the hood makes consumers want to buy the car because they see the immediate benefit.”

The CHEAPR program started in May, and about 125 EVs and plug-in hybrids had claimed rebates through July.

New London Mercedes-Benz dealer Jeff Aiosa quickly sold out of the B-class Electric Drive when the program started. “We weren’t selling them heavily before,” Aiosa said. “The program certainly created some amped-up demand.”

New Canaan Chevrolet dealer Leo Karl believes the rebates will expire by fall because of increased sales. He has sold nine 2015 Volts under the program, and expects his remaining Volts to move soon. “CHEAPR just makes it more understandable at the consumer level because it’s money on the hood,” Karl said. “That is why it’s helping more people take a look at EVs.”

 

Source: Automotive News
Image: Nicolas Raymond