U.S. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is co-sponsoring a bill that would extend tax credits for electric car manufacturers, according to Green Car Reports.
This, despite Republican U.S. President Donald Trump wanting to do away with them.
As The Tennessee Star reported in February, research shows manufacturers of electric cars wouldn’t make a tidy profit in a pure free market system because, at least right now, there isn’t enough demand for that product.
So that’s why government gets involved.
According to Green Car Reports, this legislation has many sponsors, Republican and Democrat.
“The Driving America Forward Act counts among its key sponsors Michigan Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, Tennessee establishment-Republican Lamar Alexander and Maine Republican-centrist Susan Collins. Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee signaled his support in the House as well. Automakers including General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Tesla, Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, and Volkswagen have supported the effort,” according to the website.
“Unlike partisan Democratic proposals that would simply extend the tax credit for 10 years for all automakers, before ending them abruptly, the Driving America Forward Act would boost all automakers’ available credits from 200,000 (which Tesla and GM have already surpassed) to 600,000, but lower the amount on the last 400,000 credits to $7,000, rather than $7,500. Tesla saw a dramatic drop in sales in the first quarter of 2018 after the tax credits on its cars was cut in half, despite lowering prices.”
As The Tennessee Star reported, state officials have given Volkswagen some type of concessions to compel the company to build electric cars in Chattanooga.
As Nashville Public Radio reported, state officials spent years pitching the state as Volkswagen’s best choice for an electric car manufacturing facility.
As The Tennessee Star reported last fall, former Tennessee Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said in 2010 that during the coming decade we’d see a surge of electric vehicles on the state’s roads and highways.
So certain of it, he handed out $2.5 million in government money to encourage people to buy EVs — the Nissan Leaf only, manufactured in Smyrna.
Now that the decade is nearly out, evidence indicates Bredesen was no visionary.
As reported in 2015, Tennessee had 2,568 registered EVs on the road.
In three years, that number has increased, slightly, to 3,735 EVs. Davidson County, meanwhile, currently has 746 registered EVs, according to the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
Also, as The Star reported last fall, taxpayers have paid millions of dollars to help electric vehicle manufacturers not only get their products out on the road but also furnish electric car charging stations all over Nashville.
Prior reporting shows few people around Nashville appear to use these charging stations.
Yet officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Nashville Electric Service expect more and more Nashville drivers will soon take up the habit of driving electric cars.
They’re preparing a study to gauge how Nashvillians can best prepare.
According to a press release, FleetCarma, TVA, the NES, and the Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation are launching something called SmartCharge Nashville.
The statement says people interested in buying EVs wonder how far they can drive before they need a charge. Utilities also need to prepare for more EVs on the road, the release said.
SmartCharge is supposed to help with both of those things.
Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2011 that most consumers have no desire to own an EV because they cost more than traditional vehicles and can only travel 100 miles before they need a recharge.
In 2013, Tennessee Watchdog, for several hours, monitored some of Nashville’s nearly 600 electric charging stations at three destinations – the Loveless Café, the Brentwood Public Library, and the Nashville Airport Marriott.
Not a single person showed up to use any one of them.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo Photo “Electric Cars Charging” by Felix Kramer. CC BY-SA 2.0.