Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

Atlanta's Home for Electric Vehicle News and Information


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National Drive Electric Week 2016 Metro Atlanta Event – September 10, 2016

Save the date!  Join metro Atlanta electric vehicle owners and our event sponsors for the 6th Annual National Drive Electric Week event in metro Atlanta.  This year the event will be held in Alpharetta Georgia at the incomparable Avalon community off GA 400 Exit 10 Old Milton Parkway.

Date:  Saturday September 10, 2016  Place: Avalon Alpharetta Time: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Check out the details at : Drive Electric Week Avalon Sept 10 2016.  Please register to attend and if you are an Electric Vehicle owner, please register as a volunteer/attendee.  We will have breakfast and lunch for you, a Goodie Bag and give you the opportunity tell event goers about your experience as an EV owner.

Sponsors to date include

  • Georgia Power – Electric Transportation
  • Sierra Club – Georgia Chapter
  • Hannah Solar
  • Clean Cities Georgia
  • Tesla Avalon

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I am proud to serve as this year’s City Captain along side CleanCities Georgia Executive Director Don Francis.  If you would like more information about how you can get involved in the event email me at AtlantaEVDC@gmail.com or Don at don@cleancitiesgeorgia.org.


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All Quiet in Georgia

With the 2016 Georgia General Assembly session coming to its close, there was no action taken on either Bill introduced to reinstate a graduated EV tax credit or to reduce the $200.00/year AFV road use fee.  As the owner/operator of 3 EVs (2014 VOLT, 2015 LEAF and 2015 Tesla) my bill from the State of Georgia for annual registrations is a whopping $768.00!  Ouch!

With EV sales continuing to slide precipitously, a glimmer of hope lies in the establishment of an EV study committee by the Georgia State Senate; I hope to participate as both an EV driver and in my role as National Sales Manager for Current Powered by GE EV charging stations. The committee may not ramp up until after the summer, so check back for updates.

Fortunately, the Federal Goverment reinstated its 30% Income Tax Credit with a $30,000 maximum per job site both retroactive to January 1, 2015 and expiring on December 31, 2016. Here’s a handy link to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, THE source for Federal, State and Local incentives information:  AFDC Federal EV Charging Infrastructure Tax Credit.

With the arrival of the 2017 Chevrolet VOLT, 2018 Chevrolet BOLT, Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model III (to be unveiled on March 31, 2016) many great new EV options with longer ranges and lower price tags will be available!


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Why Re-Elect Tim Echols to the Georgia Public Service Commission?

Seems being an incumbent in any office these days is a liability.  People know what you stand for, can evaluate your decisions and voting record and challengers can unfortunately mis-appropriate your words to sway voters against you.

Sadly, that is exactly what one of the contenders for Public Service Commission is doing to Tim G. Echols.  Rather than clearly stating her own position and why she would be the better candidate, this contender has taken Tim’s ardent support for electric vehicles in Georgia and oddly turned it into something it never was:  a quest to line Tim’s own pockets with a ‘free car’.

If you know Tim even in the slightest, you know that, is not how he rolls!

Like many of us, through the availability of the Zero Emission Vehicle tax credit, Tim was able to afford a $35,000+ first generation electric vehicle and experience for himself the potential for electrification of the automobile and yes help EVangelize (as I do) the need for EVs in Georgia and to help combat non-attainment air quality in metro Atlanta.

Tim fought for the tax credit to the very end of the 2015 Georgia General Assembly Legislative Session, working with a diverse team spanning CleanCities Georgia, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the EV Club of the South to retain some level of tax incentive to realize the benefits of more drivers in Georgia behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

Where were his opponents a year ago on this issue?  Silent.

Tim has invested a lot of time learning about renewable energy sources and the economics behind these technologies.  He hosts public forums, tirelessly travels around the State of Georgia advocating for these renewable resources and yes, has built the appropriate relationships with our state’s largest providers of energy: he challenges them!

So Georgia voters have a decision to make on May 24th about returning Tim G. Echols to the Public Service Commission.  It’s clear how I am voting.  Look at the facts and I think it will become clear to you as well.

 


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Is now a good time to buy a Pre-Owned Tesla Model S?

I had lunch with a work colleague last week who was asking me about Certified Pre Owned Tesla Model S vehicles and if now is a good time to buy one?

Well year end clearance sales are well known in the auto industry and the last week of December is the biggest sales period of the year! So can you score a great deal on a pre-owned Tesla Model S before December 31st?

That all depends on your definition of a great deal. Tesla forums are exploding with stories of ‘cheap’ Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Tesla Model S citing a few available for under $50,000. Considering the average new car price is $36,000 that’s still a hefty premium to pay for a 2-3 year old first generation Tesla Model S.

Here is the link to Atlanta pre-owned Model S vehicles. Tesla Model S Pre-Owned Atlanta. As of today, 18 vehicles are listed with the cheapest being a 2013 60kWh for $59,000 and the most expensive is a 2015 P85D for $105,000! A lot of choice for sure.

But none of the 18 listings look like a bargain to the author. Why you ask?

Autopilot MIA: Keep in mind that almost all of these vehicles are ‘pre-Autopilot’ capable vehicles (generally VIN below 50,000/production pre-September 2014).  This is truly a Buyer Beware situation.  Because these Model S vehicles cannot be retrofit for Autopilot (Tech Package is not the same – it must say Tech Package with Autopilot) these vehicles are consigned to a pretty steep depreciation curve.

Uncertain Used Value: Because Tesla does not typically go through the Manheim auctions, used values are almost impossible to peg and at this point, Tesla can set what they want for that value. So you have no real market data to base the value of the CPO upon. Tesla likely paid only 80% of the listed price as a trade in, locking in a 20% non-negotiable profit margin for the company so that’s a good place to start to get a sense of the true wholesale value of these CPOs.

Evaluate CPO vs. New: you should always make the comparison between a new vehicle and the CPO and factor in the still available up to $7,500.00 Federal Tax Credit. The first owner took that credit so it is not available to you as a CPO buyer. Take the time to go on to Tesla Model S design studio and price out a comparably equipped Model S, deduct the $7,500.00 tax credit and see how close you are to the CPO. Tesla Model S Design Studio.

Remaining Factory Warranty: check out the balance of the factory warranty (4 years/50,000 miles) which is extended for CPOs. Ask for details. Most importantly, look hard at the remaining battery life which typically has an 8 year warranty (ask about mileage caps which can vary by battery size and year of production). Along with the electric drive unit, this is the most expensive out of warranty repair to consider ($10,000+).

Some of the early Teslas were purchased with the extended warranty which should transfer to the CPO buyer – be sure to ask.  Rim rash is common and should be repaired by the Tesla Service Center. Tires are replaced below 5/32 of tread life.

Lower Priced Entry Level Model S:  you may want to wait and see what Tesla does with the Model S entering its fourth full year of production. According to this article from the Motley Fool, Tesla may continue to reduce the price/feature set of the Model S to attract more buyers. Tesla has been focused on the $70,000 entry price point but ‘de-contented’ Model S could reduce that price further. Motley Fool Less Expensive Tesla Model S?. Time is on your side as the supply of CPOs with Autopilot grow and Tesla moves to lower the entry price point on a new Model S.

Bottom line: So if you are just interested in a great car that may be worth 50% of what you paid for it 3 years down the road and can live without Autopilot and all other self-driving upgrades, you may find a great deal.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you commit to a Certified Pre-Owned Tesla Model S. Buy only the options/features you want. Try not to get swayed by the sub-$50,000 hype.  God-speed finding the deal of a lifetime!


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Mayor Reed Puts Atlanta on the Global Climate Stage

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is out to cement his reputation as the Environment and Sustainability Mayor!   He has been on a global quest to show what Atlanta is already doing to address climate and environment.  Here’s a summary of his activity and the full press release is in this link: Mayor Kasim Reed Participates in COP 21 Panel in Paris:

City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is among the leading city executives in the U.S. on climate change. This year, he addressed a joint U.S.-China summit on climate in Los Angeles, sharing many of the ideas and solutions currently in use in the City of Atlanta with an audience of hundreds of Chinese officials and dignitaries. In November, Mayor Reed presented at the World Economic Forum Conference on Urban Mobility and the McKinsey & Co. Global Infrastructure Initiative in San Francisco.

Mayor  Reed was just in Paris France for a series of speaking engagements and to participate in the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, organized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The event is a series of negotiations among world leaders to make an agreement to address global climate change, known as COP 21. Mayor Reed pictured taking the Paris Metro to meetings with Jenna Garland, Stephanie Benfield and Claire Angelle.

“Climate change is one of the most important issues we face nationally and internationally,” said Mayor Reed. “Atlanta’s presence at the COP 21 Paris climate meetings demonstrates our commitment to local action. I look forward to sharing our work in the City of Atlanta with other leaders from around the world, and collaborating on opportunities to cut pollution and secure a stable climate for future generations.”

Mayor Reed participated in a number of panel discussions and sessions with world leaders, including a “Buildings Day” session focused on ways to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint from commercial buildings. He discussed Atlanta’s national leadership in the Better Buildings Challenge, The Better Buildings Challenge is a public-private partnership to reduce energy and water consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020. Atlanta leads the nation with more than 100 million square feet of commercial building space committed to the challenge.

Under Mayor Reed’s leadership, the City of Atlanta is innovating in implementing solutions for climate change and sustainability. Among them:

1). Undertaking a project to increase its reserve waters supply from three days to 90 days by turning Bellwood Quarry into a reservoir;

2) Creating a Solar Atlanta initiative that will see solar panels installed on 28 firehouses and recreation center, lowering energy consumption by as much as 40 percent, and the Better Buildings Challenge, a national initiative to lower commercial energy consumption.

3). Electrifying the City of Atlanta Vehicle Fleet. Through partnership with California based VisionFleet, Mayor Reed has committed to replacing fossil fuel based City vehicle fleet with electric vehicles. City of Atlanta Electric Vehicle Fleet Program

Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition is proud of the work Mayor Reed and his Director of the City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Stephanie Benfield are doing to rapidly promote and advance energy efficient, climate favor solutions for the City of Atlanta.  Watch for more from our Mayor and his Sustainability team in 2016!


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2016 VOLT and Georgia EV Sales

Just before Thanksgiving I was contacted by Matt Smith of Vice News to ask my opinion of the 2016 Chevrolet VOLT which has been awarded the Green Car of the Year Award, and to check in on the state of EV sales in Georgia post the repeal of the ZEV Tax Credit on June 30th.  Here’s the link to the interview The Electric Car Industry Is Going to Make You Love Them. Here are the main points from the interview with more detail here:

1). 2016 Chevrolet VOLT is a nice improvement on the GEN 1.0 VOLT from an EV driving range (53 vs 38) but missed it completely by not offering the Quick Charge Package (DC Fast charging and 6.6 kW on board charger) the lower priced Nissan LEAF has offered for five years . I am looking forward to test driving the 2016 VOLT and comparing it to my 2014 model (my second VOLT; 2013 was leased). Might be another story in Vice News. Stay tuned!

I am seriously interested in test driving the 2017 Chevrolet BOLT which will be launched in January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – how un-Detroit.  Spy photos show a pretty attractive package and the guarantee of 200 mile EV driving range, today only available on the Tesla Model S70 (230 EV mile range).

2). EV sales post the repeal of the $5000 ZEV tax credit in Georgia are predictably down.  My post from last month reviewed the precipitous sales drop but argued that Georgia has over 6,000 more EVs as a result of pull ahead sales and that new, lower cost EVs are coming in 2016 (BOLT), 2017 (Gen 2.0 LEAF) and 2018 (Tesla Series III) to reignite EV sales in Georgia.

So where is Georgia now #1?  According to a recently released study shared by CleanCities Georgia this past week, Georgia has the highest EV registration fee of any state in the Union! $200 vs. $43-$100 for the states that do levy such a fee.  As the Atlanta Journal Constitution intoned when the ZEV Tax Credit was repealed:  “From First to Worst”.


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NRG EVgo: Confidence, Leadership, Innovation underpin Freedom Stations

On October 6th, I had the opportunity to catch up with Jeremy Desel, Communications Director for NRG’s EVgo business by phone and asked him to share some thoughts about the EVgo charging station network. Here’s what Jeremy told me:

  • EVgo’s mission is to ‘provide confidence in charging by providing all standards of EV charging – which today is Level 2/J1772, and DC Fast Charge stations offering both the Japanese ChaDEmo and European DC connectors at the Freedom Station. Desel added that this approach to EV infrastructure helps sell electric vehicles by providing the confidence that charging/recharging from EVgo will accomodate all types of EV/PHEVs.
  • EVgo is the nation’s leader in providing public charging, especially for DC Fast Charge stations. EVgo’s goal is to ensure that Freedom stations are no more than a mile from a highway corridor and are located where there are many amenities for EV drivers ranging from retail stores and restaurants to ‘well stocked’ convenience stores.
  • EVgo is committed to advancing the technology behind EV charging. Mr. Desel indicated that EVgo is looking across the EV infrastructure to bring drivers innovative solutions which result in faster charging times, more conveniently located Freedom Stations with a focus on providing adequate infrastructure within a given city yet ensuring intra city charging is conveniently located.  Their philosophy is to put the right charger at the right place.

While time ran out before we could discuss metro Atlanta and Georgia specifically, NRG eVgo Site Developer for Atlanta Metropolitan Area Jules Toraya, provided the graphic below depicting current and future installations of DC Fast Chargers in metro Atlanta and the outlying areas (Braselton, Dawsonville, Calhoun).  Looks like EVgo is going to have Atlanta and Georgia EV drivers well covered!

EVGo Atlanta network pic

Check out what’s new at NRG’s EVgo at NRG EVgo website


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Georgia on My Mind: What’s Being Written about the Georgia Legislature and the Plight of EVs

Smart Grid News adds their story on the EV Conflicted Georgia State Legislature.

Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

Here are links to recent articles published by VICE and SaportaReports and Smart Grid News concerning the defeat of the EV Tax Credit and adding the $200 EV Road User Fee and Rep Jay Roberts praising the Transportation Bill while remaining silent on the EV tax credit repeal and Road User Fee:

VICE: https://news.vice.com/article/the-georgia-legislature-just-pulled-the-plug-on-electric-cars

SaportaReports:  http://saportareport.com/georgia-is-driving-in-reverse-when-it-comes-to-electric-vehicles-going-from-being-a-leader-to-last-place/

Smart Grid News: http://www.smartgridnews.com/story/georgia-legislature-conflicted-over-evs/2015-04-08

Atlanta- Journal Constitution Guest Column by House Rep Jay Roberts, author of the Transportation Bill

Atlanta Journal Constitution Guest Column Jay Roberts and Transportation Bill 04062015

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Adding 30,000 EVs to Georgia Roads adds $914 Million in economic benefit over next 3 years!

Are Georgia Legislators missing a $900 Million opportunity by maintaining an EV Tax Credit?

Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

An independent economic analysis undertaken by the Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition shows that adding 30,000 new EVs (BEV and PHEV) to Georgia roads versus only 12,750 if the $5,000 tax credit is eliminated over the 2016-2018 Fiscal Years the would benefit the Georgia state economy by $914.3 million as follows:

1). $845 million in incremental sales revenues:  Using a constant $47,000 EV selling price  generates $1.5 Billion in sales revenues for 30,000 new EVs vs. only $600 million if just 12,750 new EVs are sold with the elimination of the $5000 ZEV tax credit. Deduct another $75 million for the $2,500 EV tax credit/10,000 per year/3 year tax incentive lifeand the net is $845 million in higher auto dealer sales for EVs with a $2,500 capped EV tax credit.

2).$63 million in incremental Ad Valorem tax collection:  the EV higher sales price and higher EV sales (30,000 vs 12,750)…

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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.