Oregon passes electric-car purchase rebates up to $2,500; new EV fees delayed to 2020

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Electric Avenue charging stations in Portland, Oregon [photo: Portland General Electric]

It's taken a while, but Oregon will now have a state electric-car purchase incentive that largely matches those in its neighbor to the south, California.

First discussed several years ago, the idea of a purchase rebate for cars that plug in hadn't made it through previous legislative sessions.

This year proved different, with the rebate included as part of a much larger $5.3 billion transportation funding package that was passed yesterday by the Oregon Senate and House.

DON'T MISS: Oregon mulls bonuses for salespeople who sell electric cars

That package includes funding of $12 million a year for six successive years that will fund point-of-purchase rebates for battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles whose base price is $50,000 or less.

Cars with batteries up to 10 kilowatt-hours (today, almost all plug-in hybrids except the Chevrolet Volt) will receive a $1,500 rebate.

Those with larger batteries will get the full $2,500.

Honda Fit EV at launch, Northeast Portland community electric car sharing program [PhotosByKim LLC]

Honda Fit EV at launch, Northeast Portland community electric car sharing program [PhotosByKim LLC]

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Honda Fit EV at launch, Northeast Portland community electric car sharing program [PhotosByKim LLC]

Honda Fit EV at launch, Northeast Portland community electric car sharing program [PhotosByKim LLC]

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Honda Fit EV at launch, Northeast Portland community electric car sharing program [PhotosByKim LLC]

Honda Fit EV at launch, Northeast Portland community electric car sharing program [PhotosByKim LLC]

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Rebates have also been authorized for low-speed neighborhood electric vehicles and for electric motorcycles, starting in 2019.

Beyond that suite of rebates, an additional "Charge Ahead" fund is dedicated to providing up to an additional $2,500 to incentivize low- and moderate-income drivers who replace (and scrap) a car that is at least 20 years old with an electric vehicle—new or used.

READ THIS: Drive Oregon goes Forth: new name, broader mission, more states

The "Charge Ahead" funds can be combined with the standard purchase rebate to provide up to $5,000 off the cost of that new or used electric car, meaning used Nissan Leafs might now have an effective cost of less than $5,000 to qualifying drivers.

The transportation funding package, HB 2017, phases in additional fees for registering and titling electric cars, although they don't take effect until 2020, when more plug-in vehicles will be found on the state's roads.

Chevrolet Bolt EV being charged outside Go Forth electric-car showroom, Portland [photo: Forth]

Chevrolet Bolt EV being charged outside Go Forth electric-car showroom, Portland [photo: Forth]

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Those fees will total approximately $110 a year, roughly in line with other states that have added fees on fully and partially battery-operated vehicles to make up for the gasoline taxes they don't pay.

Other components of the transportation funding include explicit support for congestion pricing that could be applied to state-controlled roads, bridges, and tunnels, and major commitments to both cycling and pedestrian projects.

It also dedicates more than $100 million a year to mass transit throughout the state.

CHECK OUT: Oregon's Pitch To Electric-Car Industry: Come Test New Stuff Here! (Nov 2015)

Among the many entities lobbying for the bill was Forth, previously Drive Oregon, the electric-car policy and advocacy group that has now moved away from its roots as a state-funded body and expanded its mission into other states and to encompass work in autonomous and connected cars as well.

Oregon governor Kate Brown, who has supported the electric-car rebate since it was first proposed, is expected to sign the transportation-funding bill within the next few days.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the spirit of full disclosure, Green Car Reports editor John Voelcker is one of several members of the council of advisers for Forth, the former Drive Oregon.

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