2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric cars outside dealership [photo: Patrick Reid]
For a bunch of electric-car owning acolytes, our readers are surprisingly sanguine about the reduction and eventual expiration of plug-in tax credits on electric-car sales.
We've reported extensively on the expiring tax credits, which will affect models from Tesla and GM in 2019. When Congress set up the tax credits in 2007, it scheduled them to sunset individually by automaker, after each automaker sold its first 200,000 plug-in cars.
Tesla reached that milestone last July. General Motors hasn't specified exactly when it crossed the threshold, but it happened in the fourth quarter. After an automaker sells 200,000 plug-in cars, the $7,500 credits remain through the end of the quarter when it reaches the marker, and for the following quarter. After that the tax credit is cut in half for six months, in half again for another six months, and then disappears entirely. GM's cars get one more quarter of full credits before they begin winding down. Tesla's were cut in half Jan. 1.
Electric cars from every other automaker are still eligible for the full tax credit.
In our Twitter poll last week, we asked, "What effect will lower tax credits on Tesla and GM plug-ins have in the new year?"
What effect will lower tax credits on Tesla and GM plug-ins have in the new year?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) January 2, 2019
Almost half our respondents, 46 percent, said they thought it would have "No effect." Tesla buyers are a loyal bunch, and for the most part those who plunk $44,000 down on a car that can't be leased—or more for a Model S or X—can generally afford it with or without a tax credit.
The second largest group, 29 percent, said the lower tax credits will result in fewer Tesla sales. Even with a $2,000 price cut across the board, the reduction in the tax credits amounts to a $1,750 price increase for Teslas.
Relatively few readers thought the credit reduction, hitting only America's two largest electric-car makers, would result in more sales of imported electric cars in 2019. Only 15 percent chose "More import sales."
Just 10 percent of our respondents thought that the three month window, until April 1, before tax credits on the Chevy Bolt EV and Volt begin winding down would result in a rush to Chevrolet dealerships to buy before the full tax credit gets reduced.
We're not sure what effect winding down the tax credits will have, but perhaps sales reports for the first and second quarters will show.
In the meantime, remember that our Twitter polls are not scientific, because our respondents are self-selected and our sample size is too small.