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Future Still Bright for Electric Vehicles in Ore. Even If Tax Credit is Axed

The Oregon Legislature this year passed a bill that will offer rebates up to $2,500 to electric-vehicle purchasers. (Oregon Department of Transportation/Flickr)
The Oregon Legislature this year passed a bill that will offer rebates up to $2,500 to electric-vehicle purchasers. (Oregon Department of Transportation/Flickr)
November 7, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. – The auto industry and supporters of electric vehicles don't want to see Congress put the brakes on an electric vehicle tax incentive, but the fuel's future still is looking bright.

Industry leaders such as Tesla, Nissan and General Motors are opposing the House Republicans' plan in their upcoming tax bill to eliminate a $7,500 tax credit for electric cars. The proposal would deal a blow to electric transportation's growing momentum, which is quickly gaining ground in affordability with other fuel types.

Gary Graunke, the president of the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association, says the proposal would hurt the industry in the short term but adds that Oregon actually is moving in the other direction.

"We had a pleasant surprise at the last legislative session that - a year when money's always hard to come by - they found a way to fund the electric-vehicle credit in the state," he says.

Oregon will offer an electric-car rebate of up to $2,500 starting in January. The federal tax credit in the House GOP's tax plan has not yet been finalized. Opponents of the credit say it unfairly favors electric vehicles.

Graunke says the cost of batteries has gone down sharply in recent years and that electric vehicles also have low maintenance costs, meaning they can be revived easily. He notes that fighting climate change through fuels that are better for the environment will save money as well.

"At some point, the people in government that are doing tax policy and spending - you know, the fiscal conservatives - will eventually realize that it's much cheaper to prevent climate change than it is to deal with the costs of climate change as those become more and more pronounced," he explains.

Global pressures also are driving the shift toward electric. Industry experts predict that, if the current trajectory holds, electric vehicles will be comparable in price to average vehicles within a decade.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR