Can anyone afford an electric vehicle?

When I was little, an electric car sounded like something along the lines of a spaceship. It was something so far-fetched and so far off in the future…it was almost laughable. Yet here it is, 2014, and not only do they exist, almost anyone can afford an electric vehicle.

Affordable is not generally a word used to describe electric vehicles. In fact, right about now you’re probably thinking I must have lost my mind, wondering if I’ve ever looked at the sticker price of a FIAT 500e, let alone any of the others currently available. As a matter of fact, I have and yes, the sticker price is higher than the average vehicle. But do a little research and you will find that, depending on where you live, the incentives for purchasing an electric vehicle can make that sticker price a bit more appealing.

electric vehiclesTo start you out, the federal government offers up to $7,500 in tax credits. The minimum credit is $2,500 and increases based on a vehicle’s traction battery capacity and gross vehicle weight (GVW) rating. Once a manufacturer reaches a minimum of 200,000 qualified units sold, this incentive will be phased out, so as the popularity of electric vehicles continues to evolve, this may be a consideration in which make you choose. (Unless, of course, there is a modification to the rule.) For more details, visit the IRS Forms and Publications website.

The next step is to check to see what your state offers. Sound like a daunting task? I thought so too. Then I found a great website from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). They break down federal, state AND local information. Talk about one-stop incentive shopping! (Under Transportation, click on Vehicles and then scroll down to Financing and Incentives to find Federal and State Laws and Incentives.)

Living in the Lone Star State, I was curious about what kind of incentives Texas offered, so that was my first stop. A qualified electric vehicle purchased by a Texas resident can earn up to $2,500 in Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) rebates. Residents of participating counties should check out the AirCheck Texas Drive a Clean Machine website to see if they qualify for up to $3,500 in Clean Vehicle Replacement Vouchers. And Austin residents have an additional incentive of up to $1,500 for which they may be eligible.

Add all that together and an Austin, Texas resident, in Travis County, could be eligible for up to $15,000 in tax incentives and rebates on the purchase of an electric vehicle. Granted, most people would not qualify for everything, but even if you only got the federal tax incentive and state rebate, that still $10,000 to shave off the sticker price of the car – certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Across the country, state and local governments are making the leases and purchases of electric vehicles more affordable than ever. (Check out what your state offers on the EERE website.) I even found one instance where an electric company would pay their customers who purchased an electric vehicle $50 (PECO customers in Pennsylvania should check this out). And since owning an electric vehicle would negate the need to use that $50 on a tank of gas, well, that just sounds like $50 to spend on whatever you darn well please!