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Elly Boehmer column: Expanding the federal tax credit for electric vehicles is a no-brainer for Virginia
Fuel Efficiency

Elly Boehmer column: Expanding the federal tax credit for electric vehicles is a no-brainer for Virginia

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Virginia has the opportunity to help every resident economically by supporting the extension of the federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. The commonwealth can decrease harmful auto emissions and improve quality of life by supporting widespread adoption of EVs.

Electric vehicle incentives don’t solely benefit consumers who opt to drive EVs. Increasing accessibility to EVs supports communities across the board.

Most of us have a positive view of electric vehicles and support the federal EV tax credit. A recent poll found that 63% of Americans believe the tax credit is crucial in supporting EV adoption in the U.S. According to the poll, 74% of respondents said the credit would have some bearing on whether they purchased an EV. For many families, the tax credit is a helpful nudge toward making a purchase that’s not only better for clean air but also cheaper to operate, helping them save money on day-to-day expenses.

When deciding to purchase a vehicle, a majority of consumers opt to buy used cars. The federal EV tax credit has bolstered an affordable market for both new and used electric vehicles. According to Kelly Blue Book, the base model 2016 Nissan LEAF sells for between $10,000 and $13,000. Similarly, Ford’s electric model of the 2017 Focus tops out at about $13,000. Affordable EVs especially help low-income drivers who spend a larger portion of their income on transportation. Electric vehicles offer a cheaper sticker price and lower costs for maintenance and fuel. Families driving EVs save $770 on average annually on fuel.

Continuing demand for electric vehicles helps support manufacturing plants and car dealerships that employ millions of Americans. The clean vehicle industry alone sustains more than 5,400 Virginia jobs, and Virginia remains one of the top 10 U.S. states for clean economy jobs, with more than 95,000 Virginians employed in this flourishing industry. Many EVs are made by American workers. Nissan’s LEAF is made in Tennessee. Chevrolet plans to build its upcoming electric crossover in Michigan. Experts say the EV industry could add 100,000 jobs each year through 2040, and Virginia is poised to continue benefiting from this trend.

Electric vehicle adoption also keeps our economy competitive, both in Virginia and nationally. Projections show China will control nearly 48% of the global EV market by 2025. The U.S. can safeguard and grow high-quality auto industry jobs and claim a larger piece of the global EV market by encouraging homegrown American innovation.

The same local economies that are supported in part by electric vehicle manufacturing are being drained by the oil and gas industry. Fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks cost taxpayers $4.7 billion annually while encouraging consumers to choose products that pollute our communities.

Fossil fuel companies continue to turn profits, while low-income communities, people of color and other vulnerable populations in our communities are saddled with the worst impacts of the pollution that those products produce. In Virginia alone, more than 700,000 children and seniors with asthma are suffering the consequences every day. Electric vehicles eliminate the tailpipe pollution plaguing disadvantaged communities. As the commonwealth transitions to cleaner cars, buses, and trucks, we will all breathe cleaner air — especially low-income Virginians.

Electric vehicles curb climate emissions. An EV in Virginia produces 60% fewer greenhouse gas emissions today than a new gas-powered car you can buy on the lot today. While a gas-powered car will continue to produce the same amount of climate-altering emissions throughout its lifetime, an EV will get cleaner and cleaner as Virginia gets more of its energy from renewable sources.

Right now, we have the opportunity to help Virginia families by supporting our members of Congress in standing up for the federal EV tax credit. In doing so, we can take a stand for Virginia jobs, consumer savings, cleaner air for all our kids to breathe and a healthier climate.

Elly Boehmer is the state director for Environment Virginia, an environmental advocacy organization. She lives in Richmond. Contact her at:

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