plug-in hybrid tax credits passes Senate - Too favorable
to Chevy Volt?
Updated: April 8, 2012
about battery capacity, not actual EV range, nor real
world fuel economy?
Editor's Note: Now that plug-in vehicles have been available for over a year, have they worked? As we said then and say now, the plug-in tax credit was, and is, flawed.
The Senate has passed a new tax bill that will provide tax
credits for plug-in
hybrid vehicles ranging from $2,500 - $7,500,
depending on the vehicle's battery capacity. To be
eligible for the credit, such plug-in vehicles must store
at least 6 kWh's of electricity.
Volt, the plug-in many believe this legislation was
written for, will store 16 kWh's of electricity to provide
40 miles of electric range and qualify for the full
Toyota has lobbied against this legislation, leading many
to believe that its plug-in hybrids won't store that much
Still, is electric storage really the best criterion for
judging plug-in hybrids?
For instance, if you make heavier vehicles, then kWh's
won't necessarily equate to extensive electric range.
Conversely, ultralight vehicles might not need much
battery capacity to achieve even more than 40 miles of EV
range. Thus, wouldn't EV range, not battery capacity, be a
better way to judge plug-ins?
Also, the Chevy Volt only charges it's lithium battery to
80 percent and depletes it to only 30 percent. This is
largely to maintain cell integrity and durability of the
battery. Thus, one might argue that 50 percent of the
battery isn't needed. Hence, 50 percent of the capacity
isn't needed. That would push the Volt down to just 8
kWh's and less of a tax credit.
Yes, that's not a fair argument, but the point is, what if
other battery technologies prove this safeguarding
technique to be inefficient and needless? What if other
battery technologies achieve more electric range with less
kWh's? Would we not then be rewarding inefficiency,
excessive weights and costs?
Perhaps even more important, is 40 miles of electric range
more beneficial than say, 150 mpg fuel economy? Or, more
precisely, is 16 kWh's of battery capacity more beneficial
than 150 mpg?
In reality, many Volt drivers will have to use gasoline,
maybe a lot more gasoline than Congress believes. Some
battery experts have already claimed that Volt EV range
could easily drop well below 20, even 15, miles with heavy
AC use and aggressive driving. If this proves true, is 15
miles of EV range really worth $7500 more than 100 mpg, or
more, fuel economy just because of battery capacity?
I certainly don't think so. Reality needs to be part of
Inevitably, the Volt might be worth a $7500 tax credit -
in fact I believe it is worth the credit - but the fact
that a 150 mpg plug-in vehicle might not qualify for ANY
tax credit demonstrates a real lack of vision and clarity
by Congress. Minimally, EV range needs to be part of this
equation, as should overall fuel economy.
Flex fuel credits, massive small business tax incentives
for gas-guzzlers, battery capacity driven tax credits,
regardless of EV range or fuel economy - Congress is again
clueless when it comes to real world understanding of
issues related to fuel economy and automotive efficiency.