Connecticut ushered in a unique electric-car incentive in 2014, and the first points of data on its effectiveness have now been published.
The Connecitcut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate (CHEAPR) program not only provides a direct incentive for consumers to buy electric cars, it also awards cash to the dealership that sells one.
The program was designed to motivate dealers to sell electric cars, since it's generally easier to peddle gasoline-powered vehicles, which are often more profitable as well.
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After two years, a study deems the program successful in motivating dealer salespeople to spend more time with customers who say they are interested in electric cars.
Those buyer receive up to a $5,000 rebate on an electric-car purchase, while the dealership earns an additional $300 for each rebated vehicle.
Overall, the dealer incentive has been "moderately to very important" in convincing dealers they can make a profit, motivate their staff to sell electric cars, and spend the time required to sumit CHEAPR applications, according to the study completed by the Center for Sustainable Energy.
Rick and Linda SantAngelo with the 2011 Nissan Leaf at 96,000 miles
Most importantly, the study says, the incentive motivated the dealer employees involved in the sales process to utilize the program rather than ignoring it entirely.
The impact rose at Connecticut dealerships that processed more than 20 CHEAPR applications, compared to those with fewer than 20.
The more applications a dealer processed, the more likely it became to continue utilizing the program.
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Consumers also said the rebate was very important to their purchase-or-lease decision: 74 percent noted they would not have chosen an electric vehicle if it weren't for the rebate.
The study identified a few areas that will likely need to be improved, however.
First, a dealer can use its $300 rebate however it sees fit.
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf, first drive, New York City, April 2017
According to the study, 69 percent of sales personnel involved in electric-car sales did not receive any portion of that incentive.
In the future, Connecticut may update the program to deliver specific incentives to a salesperson who sells an electric car.
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Moving forward, the study suggests the state should also track how dealers use the incentive for better targeting.
Also, it recommends data should be collected from non-participating dealerships as well, for comparisons that would let researchers understand the positive effects the CHEAPR program has on electric vehicle sales.
[hat tip: Brett Williams]