Proposed EV Policies Rev Up Electric Drive Week in New Mexico

Santa Fe (Sept. 9, 2014)—Electric vehicle legislation to be introduced this year in New Mexico by Rep. Jim Trujillo adds a more serious note to fun events planned in Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque for National Electric Drive Week, Sept. 15-21, 2014.

“State policies are important tools for addressing barriers to EV ownership and reaping the benefits of cleaner air and much lower fuel costs,” said Rep. Trujillo.

New Mexico’s proposed three-pronged policy will help more people get behind the wheel of a green, clean electric vehicle—not just during Electric Drive Week, but every week. Key aspects of the proposed legislation are:

1) Electric Vehicle (EV) Income Tax Credit
Electric vehicles generally cost more upfront than comparable gas-fueled cars, even though fuel and maintenance savings make up the difference within the first seven years of ownership. The bill calls for a $2,500 state income tax credit for a five-year period to reduce the cost of a qualifying EV. When combined with a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, the state credit makes the cost of an electric vehicle comparable to a conventional car and increases sales.

2) Electric Vehicle Charging Unit Tax Incentive
While most people charge their electric vehicles at home, more public charging stations throughout the state will increase range confidence and help to increase sales of the cars. New Mexico currently has fewer charging stations per person than any other state in the Southwest. Installation of a public charging station would receive a 30% income tax credit with a cap of $3,000. If a charging station provides electricity generated primarily by solar energy, then the tax credit cap would increase to $5,000.

3) Fee for State Road Fund
Electric vehicles use New Mexico highways but don’t fund highway maintenance projects because drivers don’t pay a gas tax. The bill assesses an annual fee on electric vehicles that is paid with registration. The fee provides funding for the State Road Fund.

Estimated monetary benefits of the legislation are:

  • $48 million in additional EV sales over three years;
  • $12 million in additional federal tax credits to New Mexico residents who buy EVs;
  • $4 million in fuel savings to consumers over four years; and
  • $6 million investment in 600 new charging stations.

“Two states neighboring New Mexico in the Southwest— Colorado and Utah—have the largest sales of electric vehicles and also have the most supportive state legislation,” said Will Toor, director of transportation at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and co-author of a report, State Government Report Card: Policies to Promote Electric Vehicles in the Southwest. “Many innovative policies are already in place across the region and provide several excellent examples for New Mexico.

”State legislative staff in 2013 predicted a fiscal impact of less than $1 million for the new EV policy based upon sales forecasts.

“This is the type of EV incentive package that New Mexico needs to attract businesses in the electric vehicle industry—like Tesla—in the future,” said Dan Lorimier, conservation coordinator and lobbyist for the Sierra Club Rio Grande chapter. “It shows that we are an EV friendly state and welcome environmentally friendly businesses to move here.”

Electric vehicles already can meet the transportation needs of most New Mexicans whether they are urban or rural dwellers. The average commute to work takes 21 minutes, according to a 2012 American Community survey. Nationally, cars are driven an average 38 miles daily, according to Federal Highway Administration data. A Nissan Leaf goes 80 miles max on a charge and a Chevy Volt 40 miles before switching to gas.

Non-profit Plug In America recently produced this total cost of ownership analysis for plug-in vehicles, showing that, by choosing an EV over a gasoline car, a typical U.S. driver can cut in half the monthly cost to lease and operate a car.

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