Connecticut Electric-Car Incentives Unveiled, Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Cars Included


2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive  -  First Drive, May 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive - First Drive, May 2014

Connecticut can now count itself among the cadre of states offering incentives for the purchase of new plug-in electric cars.

And the name of its incentive program gets right to the point: CHEAPR is the suitably appropriate acronym for the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate pilot program.

DON"T MISS: Rewarding Dealers Who Sell Electric Cars: Connecticut Takes The Lead (May 2014)

As the name indicates, it provides buyers with cash when they purchase a new hydrogen fuel-cell or plug-in electric car--although only the latter are available for sale in Connecticut right now.

The maximum rebate of $3,000 applies to cars with a minimum battery capacity of 18 kilowatt-hours, or to any fuel-cell car.

Cars with a battery capacity of 7 to 18 kWh are eligible for a $1,500 rebate, while models with less than 7 kWh of battery capacity can get a $750 rebate.

2015 Chevrolet Volt

2015 Chevrolet Volt

Interestingly, this means that the current 2015 Chevrolet Volt (with a 17.1-kWh battery) gets only a $1,500 rebate, but the upcoming 2016 Volt (with its 18.4-kWh pack) qualifies for the full $3,000.

Rebate applications are completed and submitted by dealers.

The program itself will be administered as part of the existing EVConnecticut effort, which so far was primarily focused on funding charging stations and general promotion of electric cars.

The range of rebates covers both all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids, although Connecticut has a somewhat limited selection of models available for sale.

ALSO SEE: Connecticut Considers Bill To Let Tesla Sell Direct To Buyers (Jan 2015)

Connecticut is one of the states that adopted California's emissions standards, but "compliance cars" like the Chevrolet Spark EV and Fiat 500e aren't sold there.

The defunct Honda Fit EV was briefly offered for lease in the Nutmeg State, but given the lack of regulatory incentive, it's unlikely other compliance-car manufacturers will follow suit.

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article suggested that Connecticut had not adopted the zero-emission vehicle provisions of the California emissions rules.

Matt Solomon, Transportation Program Manager of the Boston-based Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, wrote us to correct that assertion.

2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

Connecticut has indeed adopted the California ZEV requirements, he wrote, along with Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The reason that these rules have not yet compelled manufacturers to sell zero-emission vehicles outside California has to do with an arcane clause in the regulation often referred to as the "travel provision."

Often confused with (but quite distinct from) credit pooling, the travel provision lets carmakers earn credits in every ZEV-rules state for a vehicle sold in any state that has adopted those rules.

MORE: Electric Cars: What's Needed To Eliminate Gasoline, Diesel In 25 Years

In theory, this means that manufacturers could earn credit in California for cars sold in Connecticut.

But in practice, carmakers have limited sales to the California market at the expense of the markets in the nine other ZEV Program states.

Incentives also apply only to vehicles purchased in Connecticut and registered there--which means the Tesla Model S may be excluded for the time being.

2015 Tesla Model S 70D, Apr 2015 [photo: David Noland]

2015 Tesla Model S 70D, Apr 2015 [photo: David Noland]

State franchise laws currently prohibit direct sales of cars by manufacturers, although legislation has been introduced to amend the rules and allow Tesla to open retail stores in Connecticut.

Interestingly, the Model S, Spark EV, and 500e all appear on the list of eligible vehicles posted on the CHEAPR website--despite their unavailability.

Funding for the CHEAPR program comes from money made available to the state as a condition of the merger of Northeast Utilities and NSTAR to form Eversource Energy.

The program will run until the $800,000 in available funds is depleted. Prospective buyers can check the status of funding on the CHEAPR website.

[hat tip: BuggDog]

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