Only 12 EVs Qualify For America's New Tax Credit

Opinion / 21 Comments

And the few that do aren't exactly "affordable."

Some people need a little push to consider switching to an electric vehicle, which is why the United States federal government used to provide a $7,500 tax credit as a reward for going green. Unfortunately, that credit was capped after an automaker sold more than 200,000 EVs, and many companies like GM, Tesla, and Toyota are already out. A new bill proposed in the Senate would bring back the $7,500 credit, but it has a ton of stipulations that limit which vehicles would be eligible.

If the vehicle is a sedan, hatch, or wagon, it can only cost up to $55,000. Meanwhile, trucks, SUVs, and vans can cost up to $80,000. As we've previously stated, it sounds like the government is pushing automakers to build larger, more expensive vehicles. And since the vehicles have to be assembled in North America, that limits the pool even further.

In fact, we've had a look around to see what EVs (on sale today) would qualify for this new credit. You may be shocked to learn that the pickings are slim.

2021-2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E Forward Vision CarBuzz

Affordable Options

We counted 14 EVs that are currently built in North America and sold in the US. Of those, only a worrying three are available for less than $40,000 pre-credit. The Chevrolet Bolt and Bolt EUV are the most affordable options, starting at just $26,595 and $28,195, respectively, for the 2023 model year. With the new credit factored in, it will technically be possible to purchase an EV for under $20,000. That's incredible. Unfortunately, we don't know how much longer the Bolt will be available as GM moves on to pricier EVs. When the Equinox EV and Blazer EV arrive, they will qualify for the credits. The Nissan Leaf is also on the list at a starting MSRP of $27,800, built in Smyrna, Tennessee.

The Ford F-150 Lightning is somewhat affordable, starting at $39,974 for the base Pro model, but fully-loaded this truck can approach $90,000. There's also the Ford e-Transit van, a commercial option that costs $46,295 for a cutaway. Since the Ford Mustang Mach-E ($43,895 starting) is built in Mexico, it will technically qualify too. Finally, the Volkswagen ID.4 ($41,230 with a cheaper model coming) is now built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, so it's the only non-American brand that fits the bill at present.

2022-2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV Front Angle View Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Rear Angle View Chevrolet
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Front Angle View CarBuzz

Tesla Gets More Credits (Maybe)

As the number one volume EV producer in the world, Tesla quickly ran out of its tax credits in the US. With this new bill, several (but not all) Tesla models would once again qualify for a $7,500 credit. The Tesla Model 3 ($48,490) base model would get the credit, but the Long Range and Performance variants would be above the $55,000 price cap for sedans. Meanwhile, both versions of the Tesla Model Y slip under the $80,000 price cap for SUVs, which hardly seems fair because it's essentially the same as the Model 3, just a bit taller.

There's a caveat to these, however. The Model 3's batteries are potentially imported - that may not be the case soon - and the weight of the Model Y may not include it in the SUV category.

Tesla's more expensive cars, the Model S and Model X, are both too expensive to qualify for credits. When (and if) the Cybertruck ever arrives, it will likely get a credit. It's worth noting the bill expires in 2032, so even if the Tesla Roadster is put into production by then, it still wouldn't qualify based on price.


The Rest Are Expensive

If you want an affordable EV that will qualify for a credit, your options are a Bolt, Mach-E, Lightning, or ID.4. The rest of the qualifying American-built options are all pretty expensive: Cadillac Lyriq ($61,795), Rivian R1T ($67,500), Rivian R1S ($72,500). It's also worth nothing that all three of those options are currently sold out, meaning you won't take delivery of any until 2023 at the earliest.

In addition to the two Tesla models, a few American-built EVs are too expensive to qualify for the credit: GMC Hummer EV ($84,650) and Lucid Air ($77,400).

Even if all of these cars were eligible, the bill places several price caps on income that would likely preclude any Hummer or Lucid buyer from qualifying to receive the credit. Clearly, American automakers have a long way to go before shoppers in the US have decent amount of choice between affordable EVs.

2022 Rivian R1T Truck Frontal Aspect Rivian
2022 GMC Hummer Front Angle View CarBuzz

Verdict: We Need More Affordable EVs

While we commend the bill for helping to pave the way for more EV adoption, but the "final assembly of which occurs within North America" clause rules out some of the best vehicles on sale today, like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. If the goal is truly to sell more EVs, not just help out domestic automakers, we'd like to see this stipulation removed. The bill also gives automakers an incentive to built larger, more expensive trucks and SUVs rather than small, affordable cars. We believe the split between sedans and trucks/SUV should be cut, making it an even playing field.

We'd also like to see an expansion for used EVs, since the current language only provides a $4,000 credit (or up to 30% of the overall vehicle cost) on pre-owned models. Used vehicles must also cost less than $25,000, which rules out most of them, effectively making this part of the bill worthless. If the goal is to help the middle class switch to EVs, why can't they go buy a used Fiat 500e for $10,000 with a $4,000 credit? For that price, we'd easily consider an older EV as our daily driver.

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2022-2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV Front Angle View
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Rear Angle View
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Front Angle View
2021-2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E Forward Vision

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