Washington State Caps Electric-Car Incentives At $35K Price, Hitting Tesla, BMW


Seattle Center as night falls (photo by Jeffery Hayes)

Seattle Center as night falls (photo by Jeffery Hayes)

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Washington looks set to become the second state to cut electric-car incentives for wealthy buyers.

After critics argued that incentive money wasn't going to the people that needed it most, California recently instituted income caps for its electric-car rebate program.

But instead of restricting incentives based on income, Washington will reportedly do it based on the cost of the cars themselves.

DON'T MISS: California Ends Electric-Car Rebates For Wealthiest Buyers, Boosts Them For Poorest

That was a condition of a recent vote to extend the state's electric-car tax breaks--which expired June 30--for another four years, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting (via Autoblog).

So Washington electric-car buyers will still be exempt from sales tax, but only if their cars cost less than $35,000.

The new rule primarily affects the Tesla Model S and BMW i3.

2015 BMW i3

2015 BMW i3

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Note that the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic for the BMW's body shell is made locally, at a plant in Moses Lake.

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive would also be disqualified, if it was sold in Washington at all.

The Evergreen State is one of the most supportive of electric cars, but because it lacks a zero-emission vehicle mandate, relatively few models are sold there.

ALSO SEE: Washington State Loves Electric Cars, But Gets Very Few: Here's Why

The transportation funding measure containing the tax-break cuts is on its way to Governor Jay Inslee's desk. He is expected to sign it.

His office advises electric-car buyers to wait until after the bill is signed to make a purchase, as the previous tax breaks expired at the beginning of this month.

Legislators also voted to raise Washington's registration renewal fee for plug-in cars from $100 to $150.

Tesla Model S 85D, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Tesla Model S 85D, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

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The fee is intended to make electric-car drivers contribute funding for road maintenance, in lieu of the gas taxes they don't pay.

Measures like this have been enacted in a handful of states--over protests from electric-car advocates.

Earlier this year Idaho established a $140 fee to make up for perceived gas-tax shortfalls.

Meanwhile Washington's neighbor to the south, Oregon, is testing a road-use fee that would charge drivers based on mileage.

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