Do you remember when the Obama administration used more than 5 billion in taxpayer dollars to "jumpstart" the electric vehicle (EV) industry? Do you know what happened? Chevy Volt sales fell flat.
Do you remember when the Obama administration tried to boost Chevy Volt sales by offering a $7,500 taxpayer-funded rebate? Do you remember what happened? The Volt didn’t sell.
So, in an effort to correct this mistake, the Obama administration, under its latest budget plan, proposed increasing the subsidy from $7,500 to $10,000. Keep in mind this proposed increase, should it be given the “okay,” and the administration's vow to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 could cost taxpayers up to $10 billion in subsidies, according to Scott Rasmussen. Unsurprisingly, according to a Rasmussen poll, most Americans are against the proposal.
But perhaps we should stress this one more time: even with generous taxpayer-funded government subsidies and a proposed rebate increase, Chevy Volt sales have been flat.
So, now would be a good time to offer another taxpayer-backed purchasing incentive, right? Well, it is if you’re a Californian. Yep, California (of course) is offering more incentives to get people to buy the Chevy Volt.
“[L]ow emission model[s] of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt electric car are on their way to California, where customers will qualify for a $1,500 state rebate [emphasis added],” writes 3d Car Shows’ Gerald Ferreira.
If you're in California, this would bring the Volt's purchasing incentive to $11,500 (that is, of course, if the proposed $10,000 purchasing incentive goes through). And just in case that's not enough to convince you to buy the EV, the state of California has also agreed that Volt drivers will be given total access to California’s carpool lanes.
“The Volts with the Low Emissions Package are certain to be a strong draw for California commuters looking to travel the state’s notoriously congested freeways in the carpool lane,” said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing.
"California has more than 1,400 miles of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes. Originally restricted to vehicles with two or more occupants to help minimize congestion, the lanes are now open to single occupancy use by owners of advanced, low-emission vehicles," writes Ferreira.
Other states (including Florida, Georgia, and New York) are also considering giving Volt drivers a free pass on the carpool lanes. The new low-emission Volts started shipping from the GM plant in Detroit this week and will be on display in about 140 dealerships before the end of the month.
However, it should be noted that the idea of a state giving preferential treatment to hybrid or "clean energy" vehicles is neither new nor extraordinary. Many states, California included, have given HOV-passes to "green energy" vehicles. But that's not the interesting part of the story: it's the $1,500 state rebate, on top of the already generous $7,500 federal rebate, that should surprise some people.
So, let’s do a recap of the numbers. Let’s assume that the proposed $10,000 purchasing incentive doesn’t go through. Where, exactly, do potential Chevy Volt customers stand?
“California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project also will provide a $1500 state tax rebate for the 2012 Chevrolet Volt,” writes Jake Holmes of Automobile Magazine. “That’s in addition to the $7500 tax rebate offered by the federal government. Combined, those potentially reduce the cost of a new Volt to just $30,995 (the 2012 Volt starts at $39,9995 after an $850 destination charge).”