Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

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Tesla Model S 60 is back: A Good Value?

New Again Tesla Model S 60! This past week, Tesla announced the re-introduction of the Model S 60 kWh battery with a range of 210 miles and a base price of $66,000 USD. Other features include the new front end styling and headlamps introduced across the Model S line just a month earlier and the optional 75kWh upgrade to add another 39 miles of range for $8,500.00 USD and the optional Dual Motor for another $5,000.00.

Our sister company, Georgia EVentures, LLC, took delivery of one of the last Model S 60 kWh vehicles produced in March 2015, so we thought we would provide a comparison to see just how good a value the new, now 5 year old Model S 60 is compared to it’s original  60 kWh version launched in 2012.

2016 or 2015 Model S 60 – Which is the Better Value? To make the fairest possible comparison, we used the same color and trim (Blue Metallic, Grey Leather, Obeche Gloss, fixed roof, white headliner),  the same options (Autopilot, Tech Package/Premium, Air Suspension)  and 19″ base wheels. Supercharging was a $2,000 option in 2015 and standard in 2016; our 2015 Model S has both front and rear Nex Gen seats so a -$1,000 adjustment was made to account for the actual cost of the Nex Gen rear seat in the 2015.

Four factors make up the biggest components of value for the new Model S 60:

  1. Base price reduction of $3,900 (-6%) for comparable range (210 vs. 209)
  2. Inclusion of Supercharging which was a $2,000 option in early 2015.
  3. Decoupling of Autopilot and Tech Package/Convenience features saves $1,750.
  4. Future ability to unlock 15 kWh of battery/39 miles but not for $8,500-9,000 as offered today: Tesla is still struggling with how to price longer range battery packs.

Bottom line, before Federal and State Tax Credits (Georgia’s $5,000 ZEV tax credit vanished on July 1, 2015), the “New” Model S 60 is a better value at $4,000 less (-5%) than the 2015 Model S.

As they say, timing is everything. And this might just be a good time to finally purchase that Tesla Model S you’ve always wanted!

Fortunately for Georgia EVentures, the Georgia ZEV tax credit more than made up that difference, providing about $1,000 in lower cost versus the comp equipped 2016: yes timing is everything!

 


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Tesla Changes Model S Line Up Again – Risks Alienating Current Owners in Quest to Lure New Ones

“I’m begining to fear the announcement everytime Elon Musk steps up to the microphone” to paraphrase a member of the Tesla Fans of Atlanta Face Book page. And they are right.

What happened today?  Tesla announced three ‘upgrades’ to its product line

1). A revised Model S 70, now offering a ‘lower price’ single motor version of the vehicle and rolled back the base pricing to $70,000; identical to what it sold the outgoing Model S 60 for just 100 days ago.  Apparently jumping the base price to $75,000 to include Dual Motors (aka 70D) and supercharging did little for the base model sales.  So Tesla appears to have beat a hasty retreat to its single motor, Rear Wheel Drive platform.  Tesla is working hard to get it’s entry priced Model S below the $80,000 price point with the most popular options.

2). An upgraded 85 kWh battery to 90 kWh. The upgrade may foreshadow the battery pack for the forthcoming Model X where towing capacity of 10,000 pounds and 7 passengers is requiredTo appease recent 85/85D buyers, Tesla is offering a $3,000 upgrade (plus installation) for the slightly longer range battery, cleverly expressed as a “7% increase in range” which translates to 18 additional EV miles.

No such upgrade was offered to late buying 60 owners* who could increase range from 208 to 230 miles. One Atlanta Tesla owner noted “on my last trip I averaged 221 miles between charges.” That would be a meaningful upgrade for a Model S 60 owner**.

3). Addition of the Ludicrous Speed feature for $13,000 to reduce 0-60 time from 3.1 seconds to 2.8 seconds.  The base 70 Model S goes from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, the 85 5.4 seconds and the P85D 3.1 seconds, which was labeled “Insane” mode.  Why does a 4,500 lb car need 0-60 in under 3 seconds? And it requires both the $10,000 Ludicrous and $3,000 Range Upgrade Packages. On a per second basis, that is a $43,333! ($13,000/.3 seconds)

Tesla owners, as expressed by several members of the Atlanta Facebook group, are becoming wary of ‘upgrades’ which depreciate their already expensive vehicles.  Others express willingness to dump the last version of their Model S or pay for upgrades to get the newest features, and bragging rights.

Elon Musk describes Tesla as a car that just keeps getting better: cleaner grid, software updates, battery upgrades.  But if current owners cannot ‘pay to play’ to get the upgrades, then he is not truly fulfilling that promise. Buying one $100,000 car is a huge sacrifice. I am all for upgrades but with access to them by current owners. That would truly make Tesla and the Model S (and Model X and Model III to come) a truly revolutionary motor car company.

* Full disclosure:  I took delivery of a 2015 Tesla Model S 60 with full knowledge of the Model 70D.  The option to re-order with a 70 kWh battery without the dual motor (and loss of the very useable Frunk) was not available. Just 100 days later that option is available and I have asked Tesla representatives to consider offering a 70 kWh battery upgrade on the same terms as 85 kWh owners can do so.

** Owner has an 85 kWh battery  with a 265 mile rated range.  On a comparably equipped basis, the new 70 is $2,000 less than my 60 as Super Charging is now included in the base price versus being a $2,000 option back in March when ordered.


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Guest Post: Tim Echols – “All Good Things Must Come to an End”

As Governor Nathan Deal signed the Transportation Bill which repeals the ZEV/LEV Tax Credits, Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols shares his thoughts on what to do now in this guest post.  Throughout the battle to keep some EV tax incentive, Tim has been a strong and unwavering voice in support of sustaining the growth of EV’s in Georgia. Many thanks Tim! #2016

All good things must come to an end  By Tim Echols

It is official.  The generous $5000 state tax credit for leasing or purchasing an electric vehicle is expiring June 30th.  The Governor has signed the legislation that passed both the Senate and the House at the Capitol, and would-be electric car drivers are scrambling to get their Nissan LEAF, Tesla or other pure electric vehicle before the credit disappears.

Here are some factors you should consider before buying or leasing an electric car.

First, make sure a pure electric car works for your lifestyle. I live in Athens and lease two Nissan LEAFs, and it works great for my wife and daughter who scoot in and around Athens.  When they need to go into Atlanta or drive out of state, they use my E85 car. They charge their cars in our garage and it costs about $20 per month on our electric bill.

Second, these cars have their limitations. Since I have been on the Georgia Public Service Commission, I have praised pioneers who bought or leased an essentially experimental car like a Tesla or Nissan LEAF. It is good for our environment and good for our grid. These consumers are choosing to use a “made in America” fuel too—homegrown Georgia electricity. But mark my word, you will experience “range anxiety” from time to time as you try to press the limit of the 100 mile range on the Nissan LEAF.  Tesla owners…not so much.  They just have to worry about making their giant car payment.

Third, besides costing less to operate, our Nissan LEAFs, both on a 24 month lease, save our family money.  Our monthly lease payments are about $270 per month per car.  Nissan “bakes” the $7500 federal tax credit into the transaction, and you simple file with the state department of revenue for the state credit.  Figured over 24 months, that is $208 per month, leaving us with about $62 per month out of pocket for the car.  We installed a garage charger for about $700 including labor, and the car never needs oil, water, transmission fluid…or gas.  We feel like that great deal more than compensates for the “range anxiety” we occasionally experience.

Fourth, the local economy may get a boost from this transaction too. When that tax credit comes back to you, many electric car owners use it to pay college tuition for a child, or a bill, or just put it in the bank to offset the payments.  According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, for every one percent of petroleum-based miles traveled in Georgia that is displaced by electric vehicles, approximately $201 million dollars will remain in the state of Georgia annually. Each pure electric vehicle purchased keeps $2,242 annually in the state of Georgia by fueling with electricity rather than petroleum-based products.

Finally, electric cars help our grid. What you don’t hear is that electric car owners are helping Georgia cut electricity usage, which ultimately saves everyone money. How? Many shift their energy usage to the overnight hours due to an incentive from Georgia Power for electric car owners. According to a study of 1,000 Georgia electric car owners, these customers reduced their annual bill by $180 – even though they charged their car and didn’t buy gasoline for the entire year.  This “load shifting,” as we call it at the PSC, saves them money and yet uses less “peak load” electricity resulting in cheaper bills for everyone.

Electric cars aren’t for everyone, but they work great for us. If you want to take advantage of the Georgia tax credit, you should act quickly.  Meanwhile, feel free to contact me for more information at timothyechols@gmail.com and join me at the Alternative Fueled Vehicle Roadshow coming to a city near you. See more at www.afvroadshow.com and happy motoring.

Commissioner Tim Echols serves on the Georgia Public Service Commission and leases two Nissan LEAFS. He regulates electricity, natural gas and telecom for the state of Georgia.

Editors Note:  To qualify for the $5,000 ZEV, Georgia residents must take delivery of the qualifying new vehicle (Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S or Roadster, KIA Soul EV, VW eGolf, Mitsubishi Mio) by midnight June 30, 2015.  The vehicle must be in your possession with a Motor Vehicle Purchase Agreement signifying delivery.  Contact your automotive dealer/showroom for more details.


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UPDATED: Four Bills in Georgia House of Representatives Addressing Electric Vehicle Tax Credit

Everyone who has even a passing familiarity with the $5,000 ZEV Georgia State Income Tax Credit knew the pressure would be on to: a). kill it.  b). save it or c). transform it.  Well it looks like all three are going to be debated at the State Capitol during the 2015 Georgia State Legislative Session.

HB 220 sponsored by Ben Harbin (R- Evans) seeks to reduce the tax credit, broaden it to  plug in hybrids, set an annual cap and sunset the tax credit by 2019.  http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HB/220.

http://m.onlineathens.com/breaking-news/2015-02-11/state-lawmaker-favors-phase-out-electric-car-tax-credit#gsc.tab=0

HB 122 which calls for an immediate repeal of the tax credit effective July 1, 2015, sponsored by Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HB/122

HB 176 sponsored by Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) which seeks to broaden the tax credit to include gas-hybrids, high mileage cars and future hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles. Annual cap is $10 million and $2,000 credit only applies to Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles in 2017 and beyond. http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HB/176

Here’s a handy PDF which summarizes and compares the three Bills being processed by the House Ways and Means Sub-committee as early as this week:  Comparison of Electric Vehicle Georgia Assembly Bills

In addition the House Transportation Committee passed HB 170 bill which includes the language from HB 122 (eliminate EV Tax Credit) as part of the transportation funding proposal in addition to assessing EV drivers a $200.00/year road use fee.  http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20152016/HB/170

Next week all three Bills in the Ways and Means Committee are expected to be addressed.  Check back to see what is happening with these Bills.


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2016 VOLT – How close were the predictions?

If I were a professional golfer, I would have been told that my prediction was a ‘gimme’ based on how close I came to being accurate:

Here’s the prediction I made about it at the end of 2014 about VOLT 2.0:

4). Chevrolet VOLT 2.0: a lower cost VOLT 1.0?

With the battery re-engineered to provide more storage with fewer battery cells (192 vs 288) this was expected.  

But look at the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and you get an idea of what the 2016 VOLT is going to look like: compact.

Frankly, it looks like a Honda Civic not a cutting edge EV – but that’s what GM’s research told the designers to do.

Range may improve modestly (45-50 electric miles) – right on the money!  50 EV miles from 18.4kWh battery.

but this vehicle will not be a game changer; it’s likely the vehicle that should have launched in 2011:  $29,995 base price, Missed this one – looks like it’s going to stay at $34,995 before Federal Tax Credit. 

2017 BOLT was shown to advertise the upcoming $30,000 price point AFTER the $7500 Federal Tax Credit. 

Useable gauges, (yup). But the complaints were so high on VOLT 1.0 this had to be done.  But Chevrolet fell back on its current GM cluster gauges so the WOW factor is now gone. Somewhat cool iPad/app based interface.

3 person “Cruze Sized” rear seat.  

Middle seat is just a back cushion. Third passenger needs to ‘straddle’ the battery pack.  

I hope there are more substantial surprises when the VOLT 2.0 is unveiled at the NAIAS the week of January 12, 2015: like using more than 60% of the 17.1kWh battery!  

This did not happen.  Larger battery but no change in useable capacity. Most disappointing:  on board charger modestly increased from 3.3 to 3.6 kW.  Gonna still be slow going charging VOLT 2.0. 


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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.


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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: