GM Needs Trump Support for Proposed National EV Incentive in US

The company says that a nationwide program based on the California model could put 7 million EVs on US roads by 2030

Evan Williams By: Evan Williams November 7, 2018

While the Trump administration is looking at ending electric vehicle subsidies, raising fuel economy requirements, and stopping the state of California from imposing the stricter emissions requirements it’s had since the 1960s, General Motors is hoping to reverse that trend. The automaker is asking for a nationwide program to put more electric vehicles on American roads.

Since 2010, the US federal government has offered a big tax incentive for EV buyers. One aimed at helping the then-fledgling vehicles to become more widely adopted. Qualified buyers were eligible for a US $7,500 tax credit. As more EVs were sold, the credit was supposed to slowly disappear.

Once each automaker hit 200,000 qualifying EVs, the credit would phase out over the next several quarters. Tesla hit that mark this summer, and GM is expected to hit it shortly as well. Just last month, another bill was proposed to eliminate the incentive entirely, though with the midterm election in the US yesterday it’s unlikely to become law. Still, the sentiment is clear.

General Motors wants to turn the tide. Not just keeping the incentive, but increasing it. Reuters reports that GM VP for Global Product Development Mark Reuss told reporters that other regions, like Asia and Europe, “are working together to enact policies now to hasten the shift to an all-electric future. It’s very simple: America has the opportunity to lead in the technologies of the future.”

The company says that a nationwide program based on the California model could put 7 million EVs on US roads by 2030, though that hinged on battery cost and infrastructure targets being met.

On top of reducing fuel consumption and emissions and creating jobs, Reuss said that it would “make EVs more affordable.”

California has set a target of 15.4 percent of vehicle sales to be EVs or other zero-emissions vehicles by 2025. Nine states, including Massachusetts and New York, have adopted the same targets. To help meet those targets, California has its own incentive and emissions requirement structure.

Adopting one plan nationwide would help automakers adopt zero-emissions vehicles. One set of rules is easier to work to than the current patchwork of specific state requirements.

A nationwide EV plan in the US could also bolster sales of the vehicles in Canada. Increased volumes and choices benefit consumers who want EVs that will replace their current vehicle. It could also push Canadian politicians to either adapt EV incentive plans like those of British Columbia and Quebec, or like the plan Ontario just cancelled. Or, following the same logic GM is using to appeal to the US government, develop a Canadian nationwide electric vehicle incentive framework.

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