STATE TOUTS ELECTRIC-VEHICLE CREDITS AT NEW CANAAN DEALERSHIP
Whatever hangups drivers might have about purchasing electric cars, a state-funded rebate is helping overcome them.
The Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Vehicle Purchase Rebate program, announced by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in May, provides rebates of up to $3,000 for the purchase of electric cars. The CHEAPR program, as its known, has already seen success, state leaders announced Tuesday.
Since the program’s unveiling, more than $200,250 in rebates have been paid out or committed for 101 eligible electric vehicles. The rebates apply to eligible battery-electric, fuel-cell-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
At an event at Karl Chevrolet in New Canaan on Tuesday, Robert Klee, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection praised the dealership for helping lead the charge toward sustainability.
“(Karl Chevrolet) has really made a strong, long-standing effort to do so,” Klee said. “They set an example early by being the first car dealership in Connecticut to put solar panels on the roof, and now have two EV chargers at their dealership for the public to use.”
The Volt’s suggested retail price is $34,170 before tax credits or rebates. Other electric cars range from about $25,000 up to $80,000 or more.
The price of electric cars has dropped dramatically in recent years, and their increased range has made drivers feel more secure, officials say. An estimated 11,540 electric cars were sold nationwide in May, according to industry analysts, about a 7 percent decline from May 2014.
Leo E. Karl III, president of Karl Chevrolet whose grandfather opened the business in 1929, said the dealership has seen different models come and go, but he has been amazed by the overwhelming support the Volt has earned from customers.
Representatives from General Motors and Chevrolet were onhand to unveil the 2016 Volt, which goes into production in September. Karl Chevrolet, which is taking pre-orders for the new model, is the first dealership in the state to have the car in its showroom. The aptly colored electric blue car is being shown across the country to drum up public interest, said Kim Carpenter, GM’s group manager of East Coast communications.
“We are thrilled to see the enthusiasm towards (the Volt),” Carpenter said. “The Volt has done everything we want... and we are so excited about partnerships with programs such as CHEAPR to get the input from dealers and customers that we need.”
The new Volt will have added features that will make it even more sustainable than the current model, Carpenter added. The 2016 model will have a battery range of 50 miles, which will make it more commuter friendly, and will be able to travel up to 900 miles before a gas refill.
Carpenter also presented the Chevrolet Bolt, which she said is in the concept stage, but will be able to travel close to 200 miles on a charge, and will maintain the characteristics that make the Volt appealing.
Jim Fleming, president of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, praised the state for the effort to develop and expand the current rebate programs for drivers.
“Governor Malloy and the state of Connecticut have done a great job thus far with this program because the government sat down with the private sector and said, ‘How can we make this work?’” Fleming said. “We’re the first in the nation to have a program like this, and we’re off to a great start.”
The program is funded by $1 million from the multimillion-dollar settlement paid to the state as Northeast Utilities and NStar, a Massachusetts utility, merged several years ago. The rebates, which are being offered at three different levels based on the capacity of the car’s battery, will be available until the funding is completely distributed to consumers.
The settlement fund has also been used to install electric-vehicle charging stations around the state.