Advocacy group takes electric cars to Capitol Hill to inform lawmakers


Senator Rob Portman drives Chevrolet Bolt EV

Senator Rob Portman drives Chevrolet Bolt EV

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The best way to change perceptions about electric cars is to put novices in the driver's seat—quite literally in this sense.

The advocacy group Plug In America went to Capitol Hill recently, with a barrage of plug-in electric and pure battery electric vehicles, in an effort to educate lawmakers on their importance.

Hundreds of senate staffers showed up for the event, which was hosted by Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, and the Senate Auto Caucus.

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Portman was joined by Senators Heller [R-NV], Merkley [D-OR], and Whitehouse [D-RI].

Automakers provided full support for the event, bringing their latest plug-in vehicle offerings, including the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV 238-mile electric car.

The advocacy group also visited the office of every Senate member, not only to promote the event but to reiterate the importance of the vehicles in today's market.

Senator Debbie Stabenow staffers drive electric vehicles

Senator Debbie Stabenow staffers drive electric vehicles

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The group is currently focused on ensuring federal policies surrounding electric cars are not hindered, but supported as the vehicles slowly gain in popularity.

Specifically, the $7,500 federal tax credit helps incentivize electric vehicle ownership.

Another policy, the charging station tax credit, recently expired this past December; Plug In America is advocating that it be reinstated.

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Some states have taken matters into their own hands as well.

California has long had a $2,500 purchase rebate for battery-electric vehicles; it falls to $1,500 for plug-in hybrids.

The state also permits these cars into its freeway carpool lanes with only a single occupant, a huge advantage in the state's notorious packed rush-hour traffic.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Joel Levin, Plug In America’s Executive Director

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Joel Levin, Plug In America’s Executive Director

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Connecticut offers awards, recognition, and monetary incentives to dealerships and salespeople for selling the most plug-in electric vehicles

The state of Oregon is also looking into creating a state fund to pay out $250 to a salesperson each time he or she sells an electric vehicle.

Electric vehicles normally take longer to sell and typically do not create extra profits to offset the time spent with consumers interested in the vehicle itself.

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The advocacy group believes additional support from the U.S. government can help swing momentum in favor of electric vehicle sales and has found bipartisan support for plug-ins.

Some of the senators in attendance had never learned about electric vehicles at all, making the session a crucial learning experience -- and the group has no plans to quit anytime soon.

With additional support, Plug In America hopes to host more events and expand the electric vehicle curriculum to even more audiences.

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