Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

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US Electric Vehicle Sales break through 100,000 annual sales mark. But there are only 22,000 Connectors! “Captain we need more p’wer!”

US Electrified vehicle sales up are up an impressive +24% YTD November breaking the 100,000 unit mark!  Over 275,000 EVs on US roads +74% vs. same period last year.  EV charging station installations still lag EV sales:  one EV connector for every five EVs! A few readers asked for EV Charging rules.  Here’s a good resource: evrules.com

AJC Leaf Article Dec 4 2014


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Electric Cars Gain Toe-hold in Atlanta

This article was originally published in the December 4, 2014 edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by AJC Senior Staff Writer Richard Halicks. I have corrected the tax information section, updating the description of the Georgia State Income Tax Credit.

It’s fall, and the LEAFs are turning left and right. The handful of plug-in electric car models available here, led by the Nissan Leaf, has come as a bit of a shock to the Atlanta market. They aren’t underpowered golf cart-like vehicles, for one thing. The coolest and most expensive plug-in, the Tesla Model S, goes from zero to 60 in, well, it was there before you finished reading this. (For the record: 3.2 seconds.)

By the end of 2014, 18,000 to 20,000 all-electric cars will be on the road in Georgia. Although that’s still a relatively minuscule number, it suggests that the vehicles have passed a big milestone: the market has outgrown the hard-core enthusiasts who would have bought the cars no matter what and now takes in people looking for a good deal.

And such a deal: some people who lease the Nissan Leaf find that, between the state’s tax credit for zero-emission vehicles and the savings on gasoline, the monthly cost of the lease comes out roughly to not much. (Fair warning: the tax credit cost the state $13.6 million in 2013 and may be much more costly in 2014 because of greater sales of electric vehicles; the credit was nearly repealed earlier this year, and a state legislator wants either to repeal or revise it in 2015.) Leaf buyers tend to be enthusiastic about the cost, the quiet and the absence of emissions.

“I absolutely love it,” says Leaf driver Karen Hines, who commutes about 18 miles one-way from her home in Tucker to her job downtown. “When my lease is up on this one, I will get another one. No question.”  Hines was driving a grumpy old minivan when she got a new lease on Leaf a year ago. “I think my monthly lease payment is probably just a little bit more than the gas I was buying for my van,” Hines said. “We got a really great deal. The van was big, didn’t have great gas mileage. And I get to travel in the HOV lane all by myself.”

People like Hines have made Atlanta the No. 1 market in the nation for the Nissan Leaf, which is also the nation’s No. 1 plug-in electric car. A third of the LEAFs sold in the United States are sold here, a Nissan spokesman said, and while the Leaf accounts for about 2 percent of Nissan sales nationwide, it adds up to 25 percent of the automaker’s sales in Atlanta. The biggest concerns about plug-ins — the range is too limited, the price is too high, charging stations are too few and far between — are still concerns, but there’s progress on every front: range for the typical plug-in is now about 80 miles on a charge (265 miles for that supercharged, $70,000 Tesla); the price is steadily coming down for most models; and charging stations are increasing in number.

‘They’re finding out it’s a very fun car to drive’

Don Francis, the executive director of Clean Cities-Georgia, which promotes alternative-fuel vehicles — natural gas, propane, electricity, hydrogen and more — is both a promoter and a believer. “The customer is beginning to see the financial benefits of the vehicle,” said Francis, who is driving his second Leaf. “It’s very inexpensive to operate. In addition to that, they’re finding out that it’s a very fun car to drive.”

William Cook, who runs the state’s tax credit program for the state Environmental Protection Division, said he has been surprised by the growth in the program this year. The state approved 132 tax-credit certificates in 2012, he said. The number jumped to 1,372 in 2013. Through September this year, the total was 4,591. He estimated that 90 percent of the plug-in electrics certified are Nissan LEAFs. No. 2, though quite a bit lower, is the Tesla. The list then dwindles to a few BMW i3 models, Mitsubishi I-MiEVs  and SmartCars. And one Toyota Rav4 plug-in, Cook said. Cook noted that Georgia’s tax credit, which is among the most generous in the nation, is always subject to legislative review. Repealing the $5,000 credit could take the steam out of the electric-car market in the state.

‘Leaf inventory was measured by the hour’

This past year, for example, Alpharetta Republican Chuck Martin, who chairs the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee, filed a bill that would have repealed the credit, which Martin said was too expensive. The House passed Martin’s bill, but it didn’t make it through the state Senate. Contacted late last week, Martin said he still believes the credit is bad policy and plans to renew his effort to repeal it in the session that begins in January. In an email, Martin said he hopes a renewed “discussion of the policy could lead to a revision, reduction, or phased elimination of the credit or just sunset at some future time.” The Nissan Leaf has changed the game in the Atlanta market in at least two ways: first, it comes with the lease that takes advantage of that $5,000 tax credit for zero-emission cars (caveat emptor: the credit has limitations); and second, Nissan builds the cars in Smyrna, Tenn., ensuring a steady supply to meet demand in Atlanta.

The trick for car dealers is to have enough cars on hand to meet demand for, say, 60 days, but not so many cars that they’ll sit on the lot for months. Not long ago, however, you couldn’t count Leaf inventory by the month or even the week, Francis said. “Leaf inventory was measured by the hour,” he said. “People would follow the trucks in. The dealers have the cars now. It’s not up to the 60- to 90-day ratio, but it’s more than 30 days.” Cautions on the lease: check the distance of your commute, as well as the availability of charging stations either at work or along the way. Second, and perhaps more important, remember that auto leases often carry a mileage limit, with costly penalties for exceeding it.

‘We take turns going down to plug the cars in’

Karen Hines said she’s one of about 20 Leaf drivers at the law firm King & Spalding, where she works in telecommunications. The firm provides free charging stations in its parking garage, and the Leaf people have created a Google doc that schedules charging time for everybody. “One Leaf owner here keeps us all organized and playing nicely together,” she said. “We take turns going down to plug the cars in. That’s how we worked it out.” “Hines said her car is just about perfect for her commute — she needs to charge it every few days — but she doesn’t use it for longer trips and doesn’t usually go places if she doesn’t know there’s a charger in the vicinity. Nissan has a promotion for that, too. The company last week announced a “no charge to charge” promotion in which it offers free public charging for two years to those who buy or lease the Leaf. The special quick chargers, at 12 stations across metro Atlanta, can charge the car from zero to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes, Nissan said.  Some retailers, notably Whole Foods and Kohl’s, some employers and some municipalities offer free charging. EV owners also may pull up to a charging station that, um, charges, for about $2 an hour.

About EV tax credits

Georgia has one of the nation’s most generous personal income tax credits for zero emission electric vehicles, up to $5,000. The federal and state income tax credits can make electric vehicles affordable for most of us. But Jeffrey Cohen, founder of the Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition (atlantaevdc.com) says it’s important to know how the credits work and the limitations that apply to them. Much of the information below comes from Cohen, who emphasizes that he’s not a tax attorney and suggests that current and prospective EV owners consult a tax professional.

Federal: Income tax credit of up to $7,500, (depending on the electric vehicle’s battery size, so consult the IRS schedule of makes and models can be taken against the purchaser’s personal or business income taxes.  Important: the credit is not a rebate or a specific tax deduction. It’s a credit against your tax liability. Note: IRS has not yet released the form for the 2014 tax year. In leases, auto financing companies typically take the tax credit, since they own the car, and then reduce the lease payment accordingly. The lessee cannot claim the federal tax credit. The credit can only be taken by the first owner of the qualifying vehicle; it can’t be passed along to later owners.

State of Georgia: A personal income tax credit of $5,000 is currently available to purchasers and lessees of zero-emission vehicles. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles do not qualify because they emit some carbon dioxide. Georgia permits the credit to be taken over six years – the year of purchase and five additional years -rather than just one tax year. Remember: you don’t just get a check or a rebate for $5,000. The credit applies to your tax liability, reducing it by up to $5,000 over six tax years. You claim the tax credit on your Georgia return, so it doesn’t matter whether you buy or lease the car.  The auto financing company that provides the lease cannot claim the Georgia tax credit as it can with the federal tax credit.

tim-echols-afv-roadshow Iv


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Guest Post by Tim Echols, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commission: Why Retain the ZEV/LEV Income Tax Credit In Georgia?

I was in a restaurant the other day when a legislator came up to me and asked an important question that all of us need to be ready to answer.  He asked, somewhat hostilely I might add, “what has Georgia received for the almost $15 million invested in electric cars via the tax credit?” 

Our response to this question may determine whether Georgia’s $5000 ZEV income tax credit lives or dies.

Probably our first answer needs to be economic, and not just “our” personal economics. Remember, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, for every one percent of petroleum-based miles travelled in Georgia that is displaced by electric vehicles, approximately $201 million dollars will remain in the state of Georgia annuallyEach pure electric vehicle purchased keeps $2,242 annually in the state of Georgia by fueling with electricity rather than petroleum-based products.  This is huge.

The second reason is similar and one that Don Francis of Clean Cities Georgia talks about frequently.  The tax credit received comes back after we file our taxes as a refund, and then gets spent.  It buys things in Georgia like clothes, appliances and services.  That has a multiplier effect.

Third, electric vehicles fit nicely with our electric grid here.  Georgia Power has set up a special tariff [Editor Note: called Plug In Electric Vehicle Time of Use Rate Plan – see Resources tab] to encourage people to get electric vehicles and charge them overnight—when power is super cheap and plentiful.  According to a study of 1000 of these Georgia electric car owners on the PEV rate plan, they are not only using electricity instead of gas, but they are saving $180 per year to boot.  How?  They are shifting their usage to the evening and overnight period. This is good because we have extra electric capacity overnight, and these vehicles help us utilize it.  Then, during the day, electric vehicles and equipment are quiet, clean and efficient and offer users the opportunity to save money on fuel and maintenance costs and reduce their environmental impact.

Fourth, with Atlanta out of compliance with the EPA rule, the metro area needs all the help it can get to attain the standard and save everyone the cost of an emission sticker—not to mention their lungs. Remember, gasoline or diesel engines deteriorate over time, leading to higher emissions with the age of the vehicle, whereas electric vehicles will potentially get cleaner over time as the generation of electricity gets cleaner.

Finally, electric cars send a message to young people. As I sat recently with Mayor Reed discussing Atlanta’s success with electric cars, I asked him what he thought was the greatest benefit our region has received from the $15 million invested through state tax credits thus far. He didn’t hesitate.  He said it has sent a strong message to millennials about our priorities. This investment, he further explained, makes Atlanta a more livable city where people want to be.  He likened it to the Beltline and other quality of life projects that are drawing talented young people back into the city to live and work.  As an Atlanta native, I can get excited about that.

Nissan is having great success with the LEAF and Georgia is the 2nd largest market in the U.S. for all EVs.  But behind Nissan, BMW, Kia and many other manufacturers are coming with electric carsOur message to the legislature needs to be to hold off for another year before taking action.  Let’s allow the other manufacturers to benefit as Nissan has done.  Then, if they decide to eliminate this credit, do it slowly and phase it out over the next decade.  Georgia has a great business climate, in part because we don’t make knee-jerk regulations causing uncertainty and confusion in the marketplace.  Let’s not change that now.

I urge you to reach out to your legislator—now—before the session starts and communicate the value of the credit to our state and its citizens.

GA Power


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Georgia Power to Invest $12 Million to Advance Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

The  Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that Georgia Power is about to launch a broad-based round of incentives to stimulate residential, commercial and public charging infrastructure development in its service areas. The reported $12 million program provides for a $250.00 rebate for consumers who install a level 2 EV charging system at their homes, and $500.00 for commercial properties who install a level 2 (AC 240v/40 amp) or $250.00 for level 1 (AC 110v/16 amp) charger at their workplace.  Home and work are the top two places EV drivers want to charge up their vehicles.

Additionally, Georgia Power is working with the City of Atlanta to support the creation of 50 public charging ‘islands’ where both level 2 and Fast Charge (DC 480v/100 amp) will be built to dramatically enhance the public availability of fast charging systems which will improve EV charging infrastructure in metro Atlanta and begin to build fast charge corridors to the outlying metro Atlanta areas including Athens, Newnan and Conyers GA.

Here’s the link to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s breaking story:  http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atlantech/2014/10/georgia-power-to-invest-12m-in-driving-electric.html.

Georgia Power is no stranger to building electric vehicle infrastructure.  In the early 1990s,  Georgia Power installed over 500 level 2 charging stations in support of GM’s EV1 program when Atlanta was a test city.  Some of those stations can still be found in and around Atlanta.

CleanCitiesGeorgia Coordinator Don Francis, a 31 year veteran of Georgia Power, will help oversee this new program.

Year to Date September 2014


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Have You Driven a Ford (Plug-In Electric Hybrid) Vehicle Lately? YTD September EV Sales Results

Electric Vehicle sales continue to break through new records, according to data published by the Electric Drive Transport Association (electricdrive.org/sales). Through September 2014, 88,149 electric vehicles were sold, up +30% versus YTD September 2013.  With 255,766 EVs on US roads since 2011, that number almost doubled the 138,894 cume sales 2011-September 2013.

EV sales in September 2014  were up +15% and EV sales per month are now averaging almost 10,000 units.

From a manufacturer share, Nissan has replaced Chevrolet as the #1 EV manufacturer at 25.0% vs. 17.6% for Chevrolet (VOLT, Spark).  Nissan sales are up 36% while Chevrolet is down -10%.  

Seems like Nissan and Chevrolet have just traded places?  Not so fast!  

According to data provided by Insideevs.com monthly EV Sales Scorecard, Ford has come on strong to take the #2 EV manufacturer position. Ford PHEV sales across the combined Ford Focus Electric, C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi grew +93% to 17,343 units.  Share grew from 13.5% (YTD September 2013) to 19.9% YTD 2014 leap frogging both Chevrolet (17.6% vs. 25.6% year ago) and yes beating Tesla (12.6% vs. 19.6%) with Model S unit sales down -16%.

American drivers are moving rapidly to adopt plug-in vehicles . . . just not quite ready to give up range concerns.  With 8,563 US public charging stations offering 21,126 outlets, that’s just 1 charging station for every 12.5 US based EVs.  Until charging station infrastructure coverage grows, and electric vehicle range increases, American drivers are going to continue to play it safe and buy vehicles which give them the best combination of energy efficiency and driving range.

Have You Driven a Ford PHEV Lately?


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What’s more popular Battery Electrics or Plug-In Hybrids?

According to the electric vehicle blog, insideevs.com, using data supplied by the EDTA:  both!  Battery only and Plug-In Hybrid Sales are at about a 50/50 split according to insideevs analysis released on Twitter on September 24th. Buyers venturing into the electric vehicle market are equally split based on their driving needs.  While about half live and work in communities which support an all-electric driving lifestyle, with EV charging at home and at work, BEV’s make sense.  For the other half, unlimited range with partial electric for overall improved fuel economy and a high number of CO2 emission free driving miles supports their life-style.  And if you can afford a Tesla, you get the best of both!  This charts tell the tale of the tape:

DEW TWC Champion LaRosa i8 Mitsubishi


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2014 DriveElectricWeek Atlanta GA – The Weather Channel AMHQ Launch Event

With Georgia the #1 state for electric vehicle registrations (YTD June 2014) edging out California, National Drive Electric Week was kicked off by the Atlanta organizers a few days ahead of schedule with a launch event held at The Weather Channel Studios on Friday morning September 12, 2014 as part of the AMHQ Morning Show with hosts Sam Champion, Maria LaRosa and Mike Bettes. All three celebrity hosts participated in the program, across three segments which aired between 8:00 and 10:00 AM.

Atlanta Drive Electric Week Co-Captain Michael Beinenson ensured that all key EV makes and models were on hand. My own 2014 Chevrolet VOLT got a prime slot in segment #1 facing off against the new BMW i3 while remaining in subsequent segments behind the hosts.  I can’t tell you how many hours I spent rehearsing my VOLT:  “now smile for the camera!”  She did great.

Here’s the on air segment:

Video is the property of The Weather Channel. 

The event was supported by the EV Club of the South, with members lending their EVs (Fiskar Karma, Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) for the three hour segment filming.  

Video taken by the author.

But the surprise hit was the appearance of one of the first BMW i8′s to be delivered in Atlanta. In fact the car was driven over from nearby Global Imports with the almost owner sitting in the passenger seat.  We quickly re-arranged the third segment to get the i8 into the shot and both Sam Champion and Maria LaRosa quickly improvised to shift the audience attention from the Tesla Model S that with Mike Bettes speeding by to show off the $150,000 BMW i8!.  All photos taken by the author.  

LaRosa & Champion DEW TWC i8photo 4 (5)

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