The ROI for electric vehicles

May 27, 2010
PORTLAND, OR. At the official launch of Navistar’s new, all-electric eStar Class 2-3 truck this week, OR, Rick Wallace of the Oregon Department of Energy outlined the financial incentives available to help “sweeten the deal” for companies ready to add all-electric trucks to their fleets.

PORTLAND, OR. At the official launch of Navistar’s new, all-electric eStar Class 2-3 truck this week, OR, Rick Wallace of the Oregon Department of Energy outlined the financial incentives available to help “sweeten the deal” for companies ready to add all-electric trucks to their fleets.

Although the frenzy over federal subsidies provided under measures like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as the “stimulus bill”) passed by Congress in February last year and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act have abated since their initial introduction, there are still state and Federal monies available to help encourage companies to invest in new vehicle technologies.

On the Federal level, Wallace noted that there is an income tax credit for deploying electric vehicles of up to $7,500 for trucks in the 12,000-lb. to 14,000 lb. GVWR range. Filing for the credit is handled via IRS form 8834.

State-level funds are also available and can be paired with the Federal tax credit, he said. In Oregon, for example, there is a Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) of up to 35% of the “incremental” difference in cost between a conventional fuel vehicle of the same weight class and size as an all-electric or electric hybrid vehicle.

Pre-approval from the state is required before the purchase and a final approval must be obtained before the tax credit can actually be claimed, Wallace stressed, but the monies are there.

To help people understand the potential, Wallace offered a hypothetical example: If the electric vehicle cost equals $150,000, while the cost for its conventional counterpart equals $50,000, the “incremental” difference covered by the BETC is $100,000. In turn, Oregon’s 35% BETC translates in this scenario into $35,000. Add to that Federal income tax credit of $7,500 and the total tax incentives total $42,500.

Oregon also offers a tax credit of up to 35% to acquire and install electric vehicle charging stations, Wallace noted. Likewise, the Federal government offers an additional income tax credit of up to 58% – a total that Wallace called “a real deal.”

Again, using a hypothetical example, Wallace said if a Level 2 EV charging station cost is $10,000, and the Federal tax credit equals $5,000, added to Oregon BETC’s of $3,500, the net cost for an EV charging station drops to $1,500.

There are numerous other programs to help fleets begin to make the switch to alternative power sources like electricity. In fact, there are very few states that don’t have some sort of incentive program in place to help encourage the switch. Some good sources for up-to-date information are the EPA, the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program and the Environmental Defense Fund.

“Oregon’s incentives are offered to try to get this [switch to alternative power] started,” Wallace added. “If we wait until oil is no longer feasible, then it is too late.”

About the Author

Wendy Leavitt

Wendy Leavitt joined Fleet Owner in 1998 after serving as editor-in-chief of Trucking Technology magazine for four years.

She began her career in the trucking industry at Kenworth Truck Company in Kirkland, WA where she spent 16 years—the first five years as safety and compliance manager in the engineering department and more than a decade as the company’s manager of advertising and public relations. She has also worked as a book editor, guided authors through the self-publishing process and operated her own marketing and public relations business.

Wendy has a Masters Degree in English and Art History from Western Washington University, where, as a graduate student, she also taught writing.  

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