Why the Volt Won't Qualify for California's Rebate
By Bill Moore
The long, speculation-filled wait is about to end. Come Tuesday, 27 July 2010, if heavy hints prove true, General Motors officials will announce the pricing on the revolutionary plug-in Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).
While investigating the reasons why the Volt will not qualify -- for now -- for the $5,000 AT-PZEV rebate in California, EV World learned that the date for the pricing announcement will coincide with the Plug-In Conference & Exposition in San Jose, California, June 26-29th.
Speculation has run rampant for months now that the car will be priced at or over $40,000, though depending on consumer demand and dealer profit margins, buyers could see that number go even higher, since only 10,000 units will be built the first year. Production numbers are slated to rise to 30,000 units annually for the 2012 model year and beyond, so dealer inventories in those handful of states where the first limited number of units will be shipped could be tight, and dealer add-ons high.
While the Volt, which seats four adults and has an Electric-First™ driving range of up to 40 miles and a hybrid range of some 300 additional miles, qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax credit, it will not qualify for California's AT-PZEV (advanced technology partial zero emission vehicle) rebate, worth an additional $5,000.
According to GM spokespersons Robert Peterson in Michigan and Shad Balch in California, GM decided in 2007 when it committed to series production of the Volt, to not seek California Air Resources Board AT-PZEV certification. Instead, the decision was made to certify the car in all 50 United States. ARB certification would have required, both GM executives explained, additional testing and since California's air quality regulators had yet to figure out how to classify the Volt, GM felt it was more important to continue the accelerated development program and get the car out by the Fall of 2010 then wait for ARB to come up with a way to categorize what will be for many drivers essentially an all-electric car, while for other who driver further distances each day, a hybrid.
And then there's the issue of California's fiscal health. Both Peterson and Balch noted that the state allocated just $4.1 million dollars for the rebate program. That money has to be shared not only among all vehicle manufacturers, but also many vehicle types. While the Nissan LEAF, an all-electric car, will qualify for the $5,000, an all-electric truck like those manufactured by Smith and Navistar will qualify for as much as $20,000. Owners of electric scooters, motorcycles, and three-wheeled EVs can also request smaller rebates. If you assume that only LEAF owners will be applying for the funds, that works out to be only 820 vehicles, and those funds run out the end of this year. Balch explained that even if California renews the program for 2011, increasing it to as much as $8m, that will cover only an additional 1,600 vehicles. General Motors simply didn't feel the extra time, expense, and likely delays to market were worth it.
Balch told EV World that GM will have the car certified to ARB standards by mid-2012, so assuming funds are still available, some Volt buyers will be able to apply for a rebate at that point. Initially, dealers in California, Austin, Texas, Michigan and around the greater New York area will be receiving the first shipment of vehicles, with the largest allotments headed to the Golden State.
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