John Howard: Now is the time to think about buying electric car

Last modified: Wednesday, July 16, 2014
To the editor:

Now is the time to buy an electric car. With the new state point of sale rebate of up to $2,500, the IRS tax break of up to $7,500 and the price drop of $5,000 on several electric cars (EV), a Massachusetts resident can own an EV car for about $13,000.

For example, a buyer can deduct $10,000 from the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of each of the following: 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with a suggested price tag of $22,995 and an EPA-estimated range of 62 miles per charge (MPC); 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV ($26,685 and 82 MPC); 2014 Nissan Leaf EV ($28,980 and 84 MPC); and the 2014 Chevrolet Volt EV/Gas ($34,551 and 38 MPC plus 342 miles on gas).

The MPC varies depending on how you drive and temperature. I do “eco-driving” and get 50 MPC from my Chevy Volt in the summer but only 30 MPC in the cold of winter. All electric car batteries perform less well in lower temperatures. If you drive like James Bond, your MPC will be lower.

When the 200,000th EV car is sold from each manufacturer, the IRS rebate will be cut by half. When the money for the state program runs out, the program will stop — so don’t wait too long. The IRS rebate must be used in the year you buy the car. If your tax liability is $4,000, you lose the other $3,500. Other cars may have less allowed for state rebates and IRS tax deductions. For a complete list of Massachusetts rebates go to https://mor-ev.org/eligible-vehicles-list. For IRS tax deductions go to www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml.

The Volt is very good in the snow due to the battery weight, a quality shared with all EVs. The average cost to drive 40 miles on battery power is $1.30 (ten KWH at thirteen cents per KWH). The other EVs are probably about the same. I get about 45 MPG when driving on gas. The other plug-in hybrids should do as well. Finally, they are really great cars.

John Howard

South Hadley