As U.S. taxpayers start to grapple with their income-tax filings, due April 15, tens of thousands of taxpayers will benefit from a Federal income-tax credit of $2,500 to $7,500 offered to buyers of plug-in electric cars.
Enacted in 2009, it was intended to spur the early sales of such cars whose prices remain higher than those of their gasoline equivalents.
With more than 285,000 battery-electric and plug-in hybrid cars on U.S. roads today, that credit likely helped cut the cost of a majority of them.
2014 Chevrolet Volt
But the credit starts to sunset for each carmaker when it reaches a total of 200,000 plug-in cars sold.
As AutoblogGreen noted last September, that page had numerous problems with missing makers and strange totals. In many cases, it conflicted directly with publicly-available sales data for electric cars, which is widely reported here and by numerous other outlets.
Eligible vehicles: largely accurate
So has the situation improved? Is the IRS page any more accurate? The short answer is yes and no.
Autoblog's piece was written on September 18, and the IRS page had then last been updated on September 2. It now shows the last update as of November 17, last year.
Manufacturers with vehicles eligible for plug-in electric vehicle purchase tax credit, IRS, Nov 2014
There are now 25 separate manufacturers listed, including both carmakers and those that sell medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, on the qualifying vehicle list.
That list seems largely accurate, but there are still some oddities. The Honda page, for instance, lists only the Accord Plug-In Hybrid, but not the Fit EV (which has sold more than double the number).
And the Kia Soul EV, which went on sale in October, is not listed (although the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid, which started sales only in November, is).
Number sold: still perplexing
The vehicle-sales total page, however, remains perplexing.
As Autoblog noted, this could be a problem of reporting on the carmaker side or challenges in keeping the page updated on the part of the IRS.
Sales of vehicles qualifying for plug-in electric car purchase tax credit, IRS, Nov 2014
But numerous concerns remain.
More than two dozen different models of plug-in passenger vehicles have now been sold since 2009 and are eligible for the credits. But only seven are listed as having been sold in 2014.
That's up from the five reported by Autoblog, but it's still missing data for every maker except for Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan.
Though as Autoblog author Sebastian Blanco points out, automakers must sign a disclosure waiver to let their reports to the IRS be published.
Which begs the question: Why would BMW, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors (Cadillac, Chevrolet), Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, and VW Group (Porsche, Volkswagen) not want the IRS to disclose their data?
A rough scan of the Nissan sales totals shows that they are lower than the total reported deliveries of the same cars, which makes sense: Not every buyer is able to claim the tax credit.
More credits than sales?
The most glaring oddity, however, is the total sales reported for the three qualifying Ford products: the Focus Electric, C-Max Energi, and Fusion Energi.
In 2012, the IRS shows 4,101 of those vehicles cumulatively sold. Yet Ford's own reports say it delivered 2,374 C-Max Energis and 685 Focus Electrics that year, for a total of 3,059.
The 2013 total of 20,409 Fords similarly exceeds Ford's reported total of 14,981, made up of 7,154 C-Max Energis, 6,089 Fusion Energis, and 1,738 Focus Electrics.
We might suggest that the IRS may wish to do two things: First, contact Ford to ask about those apparent discrepancies, and second, confirm that none of the other seven automakers whose totals are not shown won't give permission.
It may be that the data exists within the vast IRS apparatus, and this is just a lag in posting it publicly--which as online publishers we have some sympathy for.
Nevertheless, over to you IRS--and Ford too, for that matter.