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State EV incentive programs are overwhelmed by demand, forced to pause

Credit: Tesla China

Today, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has announced that its multimillion-dollar EV incentive program has been overwhelmed by demand and will be forced to pause. But it is far from the only state facing this problem.

As state and federal government agencies have been working to increase the number of electric vehicles on the road in the United States, their primary tool has been EV tax incentives, which give car buyers a sizeable discount on their taxes when they purchase an electric vehicle. However, as these programs have grown in popularity, so has the demand for them, and now, states are running out of money to fund them.

According to a new report from The Associated Press, New Jersey is the latest state to face this problem. The state’s “Charge Up” program, managed by the Board of Public Utilities and granted a generous $35 million in funding, has already run dry for this fiscal year and will need to wait until July for funds to be replenished.

As noted by a state’s Board spokesman, this problem is entirely demand driven. Residents of New Jersey have quickly taken to the new EV tax discount opportunity, which provides $4,000 off the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle. And in some cases, it can be added to federal EV incentives, dropping an EV’s price by as much as $11,500.

Over this fiscal year, the state’s Board estimates that it has helped fund the purchase of 10,000 new EVs, while over the program’s three-year lifespan, it estimates that it has spent $90 million, helping purchase 25,000 EVs.

Last year, New Jersey reported a record spike in EV sales, representing 8% of the overall car market. In total, 91,000 EVs are currently registered in the state.

New Jersey’s conundrum is quite similar to numerous other states, primarily on the West Coast, which have also seen dramatic EV sales increases. Most recently, Oregon’s EV incentive program was forced to pause until the next fiscal year. At the same time, neighboring California has received numerous complaints from countless residents who have yet to receive funds from their program.

Perhaps nowhere has this program been seen more dramatically than in New York, where the state’s EV incentive program has run out of money numerous times throughout its short existence.

For many, this leads to a couple of questions; when will incentives no longer be required or become too expensive for states to operate? Further, with the rapid decline in the price of EVs to near parity with gas alternatives, could market forces make EVs cheaper than ever without the need for incentives at all?

While answers to these questions remain unclear, at least in the United States, where the proportion of EV sales remains small compared to ICE vehicle sales, New Jersey and numerous other states have dedicated themselves to keeping these programs alive for the time being. But looking to the future, it remains unclear when these ~$10,000 car discounts will disappear.

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State EV incentive programs are overwhelmed by demand, forced to pause
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