Climate Bill ‘Transformative’ for Auto and Energy Industries

For the auto industry, one of the most important provisions in the climate bill would eliminate a cap on how many cars from each manufacturer are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit that taxpayers get for buying electric vehicles. Currently, the credits are phased out after a manufacturer has sold 200,000 electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Restoring the credits would be huge for Tesla and General Motors, which have used up their quotas, as well as companies like Ford Motor and Toyota that will soon lose access to the credits. The new tax credit, available through 2032, would make vehicles from those companies more affordable and address criticism that only rich people can afford electric cars.

“A big swath of middle-class Americans will be able to get this credit that otherwise would have been blocked out because of the credit limit,” said Joe Britton, executive director of the Zero Emission Transportation Association, whose members include Tesla as well as makers of charging equipment, suppliers of battery materials and other companies tied to the electric vehicle business. “That’s a big deal.”

For the first time, used cars that are battery powered would qualify for a tax break of up to $4,000. That is important because most people buy secondhand, not new, cars. The average price of a new electric car has risen above $60,000, out of reach for many buyers despite the fuel and maintenance savings that those vehicles provide.

Individuals making more than $150,000 a year or couples earning $300,000 or more would not qualify for incentives for new electric cars. The income limits for the used-car incentive are $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. The credits would not apply to sedans that sell for more than $55,000 and vans, pickups and sport utility vehicles listed at more than $80,000.

“They are trying to drive adoption among middle-class and lower-class buyers, and that’s a good thing,” said Akshay Singh, a partner at the accounting and consulting firm PwC who specializes in the auto industry. “That’s where the bulk of the market is.”

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