New tax incentives for EV purchases in 2013 could be up to $10K

Although the sales of EVs have been off to a slow start in 2012, tax incentives continue to encourage sales. Currently the IRS credit(IRC 30D) for EVs is described on their website as follows:

“For vehicles acquired after December 31, 2009, the credit is equal to $2,500 plus, for a vehicle which draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity, $417, plus an additional $417 for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt hours. The total amount of the credit allowed for a vehicle is limited to $7,500.”

The credit is available until the manufacturer of the vehicle you are considering sells 200,000 vehicles that qualify for the credit, and then will be gradually phased out for that manufacturer with additional sales. 2013 may prove to be even more promising if a proposed tax credit of up to $10,000 on new EV purchases is approved.

It is pointed out in an article at the respected vehicle information site edmunds.com that the credit is also limited by your tax liability, so if you only owe $5,000 in taxes for the year, the $7,500 EV credit will only cover the amount you owe. (That basically the means that the government won’t make you pay them the taxes you owe, but they aren’t going to pay you the difference if you don’t use the full credit amount.) Still sounds like a deal to me!

Have you received a tax credit for buying an EV or back when there were credits offered for hybrids? Was it a significant motivator in your choice of vehicle purchase? Was it easy to do at tax time? Leave a comment below!

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Toyota and Tesla are first-movers on electric SUVs

SUV lovers can begin getting exited as Toyota announced this week that it intends to launch an all-electric version of its successful RAV4 this summer; likely in July 2012. The specs have not yet been released, but the new model with the Tesla engineered drive train will be displayed next week at EVS26, the 26th annual International Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles, CA next week.

The standard combustion engine RAV4 starts at $22,650, so it will be interesting to see what the EV package will run. Anticipated range on the electric SUV is 100 miles; very comparable with its smaller all-electric competitors, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt.

Tesla is also preparing to launch its own SUV, the Model X late next year. Starting price for this luxury brand model is $49,900 and going up to $97,900 with upgrades, which is very comparable with the Porsche Cayenne.

The really nice thing about these introductory SUVs coming out on the market is that you can see the trend moving in that direction with competition in all typical SUV price ranges from the different makers. Considering how popular SUVs are in the U.S., this is likely a very clever market segment to target and will be much appreciated by consumers.

All-wheel drive, carries the kids and/or gear, saves people from the robbery at the gas pump, AND has zero tailpipe emissions? Sounds like a win to me.

Are there any SUV models or features you are hoping to see being produced as all-electric? Are you excited about the RAV4 or Model X? Leave a comment below!

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High Schools Compete in Electric Vehicle Conversion Challenge

An annual event since 1995, the2012 EV Challenge kicked off over this past weekend running from April 21-22. The competition allows North Carolina high school students to compete in showing their electric vehicle engineering innovation ideas by converting an old model of combustion engine vehicle into a fully operating EV.

Students learn about engineering and design as they weigh various design features of their project and then participate over a two-day period with their finished product at the EV Challenge. It begins with each converted vehicle going through various technical inspections, and then the teams are tested on their EV knowledge in an EV Jeopardy event. After the inspection and game process, the team vehicles compete in a series of  acceleration, range, and race challenges.

This event is a fantastic opportunity to encourage innovation in design and helping the next generation of young people to meet the challenges the future holds as vehicle technology evolves in meeting sustainable needs.

Check out this great video that covered some of the happenings this year’s competition:

Hopefully more of these types of experiences will be developed in other areas as the interest in EV technology continues to spread at rapid pace and the need for engineers in this country continues to grow.

Do you know of any other sustainability engineering youth programs that you’d like to share or promote? Have any new ideas that could be adopted? Leave a comment below and get the word out!

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Top 5 Earth Day Must-See List

As Earth Day 2012 comes to a close…

People around the globe are reminded annually of the need to take care of the planet we call home. Here is my top list of things you really should be exposed to to truly understand how small this planet really is, and what we need to do to protect it. Each of these artful expressions regarding our planet were uniformly influential in inspiring me to become interested in, and also want to encourage, sustainability.

1. Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” video to gain some perspective on how tiny we are and why we should take care of our home planet:

2. Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” which explains thoroughly what climate change is and how scientists are able to document the changes to the planet because of it. Check out the trailer which captures the point:

3. Watch Edward Burtynsky’s “Manufactured Landscapes” which features a disturbing collage of photographs from around the world, capturing how badly we are exploiting the planet and the damage that is left behind.

4. Watch the documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car” to see how and why the trend toward electric cars started and stopped a decade ago:

5. This one is the only fictional film on my list, but it definitely got me to think after watching it; Disney/Pixar’s “Wall-E”. The film shows what the future holds for the inhabitants of Earth as they have made the planet a massive landfill and consumed all of its resources.

Have you seen any of these videos or films? Did they make you think? Is there anything else you’d add to this list? Share your thoughts below!

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Best U.S. states to drive an EV; reduce your carbon footprint

There continues to be discussion over the true environmental benefits of driving electric vehicles, with many arguing that due to the source of electricity being an environmental pollutant, there is no real difference over driving a gas-powered car. A recent study by MIT-started non-profit organization the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has attempted to debunk these arguments by looking at various regions throughout the U.S. and their source of electricity.

The study found that EVs are definitely better for the environment no matter where you live, despite critics’ arguments that the much of the electricity comes from coal-burning plants; however, the areas that use other methods of generating electricity prove to be substantially better; about 45 % of Americans live in the “best” regions for EV use to make an impact.

The top states? California, New York, Oregon, Washington State, and Alaska.

Each of the states has a substantial amount of energy coming from greener methods. The worst state found was Colorado, as a majority of the state’s electricity comes from coal-burning plants. However; the primary points taken away from the study were that overall, “electric cars produce lower global warming emissions and cost significantly less to fuel than the average compact gasoline-powered vehicle.”

If your goal is to use a greener form of transportation, your carbon footprint can already be reduced dramatically by driving an EV, and as wind and solar power are increasingly used in the future, that environmental impact is even greater.

Curious about what your carbon footprint is right now? Use this free calculator to check yours out at www.myfootprint.org!

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5 Tips to Save Gas When Driving

Hating the high gas prices, but not ready to buy or lease a new car? Consider these helpful gas saving tips form the U.S. Department of Energy to lessen your frequency of visits to the pump.

1. Avoid Aggressive Driving. Rapid acceleration and braking, as well as speeding, can lower your MPG by as much as 33% on the highway and 5% in town. Give yourself extra time to get to where you are going so you can heed this fuel-saving tip and be a safer driver while you’re at it.

2. Drive the Speed Limit. For every 5 miles over 60 MPH you drive, you are wasting and extra 7% of your gas. That’s like paying and extra $0.31 per gallon at the pump (assuming a fuel price of $3.87/gallon).

3. Turn Off Your Engine Rather Than Idling. Leaving your car on when parked continues to eat up your gas at about 1 to 3 cents per minute without A/C, and 2 to 4 cents per minute with A/C. Consider walking inside to do your banking or to grab lunch from your local fast food restaurant, rather than adding to your bill or fees by wasting your gas money.

4. Use Cruise Control. This little feature given in most cars can actually help save you money by keeping your speed constant over long periods. Once you hit that freeway to commute in the morning or on that next road trip, set your vehicle to cruise at the lowest speed limit to save on gas.

5. Remove Excessive Weight. Sure that tool box may come in handy someday, but if you know you won’t likely be using it within the next week, consider leaving it in the garage. For every 100 lbs of added weight in the vehicle when driving, plan to add an extra 4 to 8 cents per gallon to your gas bill.

Know of any other handy gas-saving tips? Share your thoughts with others by leaving a comment below!

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Internet reality show “Plugged In” features chance to win a 2012 Ford Focus Electric

Interest in EVs and hybrids is up according to the record March sales reports for the U.S. market. With high fuel costs as a negative driver to finding money-saving alternatives, and luxury (think designated parking spaces and car pool lane use) incentives as positive reinforcements,  many people are seeing the perks of switching over to cleaner cars.

However, with the electric market still in its infancy, and therefore slowly gaining a broader-range of interest, Ford is looking for alternative ways to market its all-electric fleet through an internet-based reality series called “Plugged In”.

The show will be broadcast on Yahoo! Screen starting in May, and will feature different celebrity hosts that will follow the contestants through Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Atlanta, Raleigh, and Boston. The game will consist of the contestants being given clues to complete different challenges and tasks throughout each city, and will culminate in one team of people each winning a 2012 Ford Focus Electric.

Yahoo’s video site reports to get 61 million unique viewers per month, and already has 21 original online programs. Ford is hoping to use what Yahoo has learned about its viewing audience to boost interest and sales through viral marketing and it just may prove to be perfect timing for that approach. Fuel prices are up, EVs are abuzz in the media, and American thirst for celebrity-led reality shows seems to have yet met satiation. The show highlighting the benefits of the 105 MPGe (combined) Ford Focus Electric through an entertaining game show may just appeal to the mass American Idol watching audience it hopes to captivate.

You do have to admit, it’s a clever job with innovation and use of technology in the marketing department. What do you think? Do you plan to check out the series?

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