America's EV Incentives Are A Joke

Americans still aren't buying all that many EVs, and I have a pretty good idea why.

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Photo: Ford

Other countries discount EVs at the point of sale. Americans wait until next tax season. All that and more in The Morning Shift for September 3, 2021.

1st Gear: Who Are We Kidding?

I spotted a report in Automotive News today with an EV manufacturing lobby pleading with our government to give more support to electric vehicles. The group is asking for bigger and broader tax credits, per AN:

In a letter sent Thursday, the Electric Drive Transportation Association — along with the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, Autos Drive America and the Zero Emission Transportation Association — asked Democratic lawmakers to expand and extend the Section 30B and 30D tax credits for EVs “to support consumer acceptance and help manufacturers reach the economies of scales needed to achieve parity” with the gasoline-powered vehicle market.


The Senate Finance Committee in May approved a proposal led by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., in the Clean Energy for America Act that would allow vehicle buyers to receive as much as $12,500 for electric vehicles assembled by union workers at U.S. factories.

Under the proposal, consumers are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit if they buy an EV and can receive an additional $2,500 if the vehicle is assembled in the U.S. and another $2,500 if it is assembled in a plant whose work force is represented by a union.


There’s a problem with all of this. These are tax credits. That sounds great to Americans, but Americans might not even realize that this whole system is a total joke. Other countries discount EVs at the point of sale. Here’s how our current $7,500 credit works, as Kelly Blue Book explains:

The tax credit is just that — a tax credit. Manufacturers often advertise it as a discount on the car’s price, but it isn’t. Instead, it’s a government policy that allows you to claim up to $7,500 in credit against the federal income taxes you owe in the year in which you buy the car. In other words, it reduces your tax liability. If you’re eligible for a refund, you’ll get whatever the amount of your credit on top of that.


It’s worth noting that to realize a $7500 tax credit, you have to be making a decent amount of money to begin with.

There was a lot of talk about Biden going to point-of-sale when the so-called Clean Energy for America Act first popped up earlier this year, but there’s no language about it as the bill stands. It’s been described as one of “a few ways that the bill could still be improved.” We need to get our shit together.


2nd Gear: Germany Up To 15% EV Adoption Rate

Meanwhile in Germany, all-electric vehicles made up to 15% of new car registrations for the month of August, according to government figures, and translated by Google because it’s too early for me to be doing my own translating:

35.5 percent of the new vehicles were equipped with a gasoline engine (68,598 / -41.8%), 17.7 percent were diesel vehicles (34,171 / -50.8%). Vehicles with hybrid drive (60,720 / + 31.5%) achieved a share of 31.4 percent, including plug-in hybrids (24,497 / + 43.3%) with a share of 12.7 percent. Electric cars (BEV) (28,860 / + 79.5%) had a share of 14.9 percent. A share of 0.4 percent was made up of cars with the fuel type LPG (711 / -8.1%) and 0.1 percent were natural gas vehicles (199 / -69.8%). The average CO2 emissions fell by -18.2 percent and amounted to 114.6 g / km.


If you’re wondering how this compares to the United States, we’re somewhere around one or two percent. Germany, as we’ve discussed before, kicks you back up to five figures in some cases when you buy an EV.

3rd Gear: Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, You’re Telling Me There’s Another Tesla Delay?

Elon claimed that the Cybertruck is “delayed” again, which would be bad news for anyone thinking this truck will ever make it to production, or if you genuinely believe Tesla even wants to put it into production. If you were trying to hype people up on a car that was specifically impossible to bring to market, you’d be doing this. Read what Electrek has to say about it:

Elon Musk has confirmed and elaborated on the delayed timeline for the Cybertruck, Tesla’s upcoming electric pickup truck.

It has been delayed to now late 2022.


Over the last year, with the timeline coming closer, there have been signs that the Cybertruck could be delayed.

First off, Tesla only recently completed the engineering design of the electric pickup truck.

CEO Elon Musk also warned that Tesla is going to have some challenges in bringing the Cybertruck to production due to features such as the steel exoskeleton body, which requires completely new manufacturing processes.


Ah shit, the all-electric pickup we wanted to build? We have to, uh, make sure it has a steel exoskeleton for some reason. We swear it’s important. Totally critical. Gonna take us a while to figure it out. was less charitable about the news, pointing out that Tesla is having a curiously hard time with this thing:

The extended Cybertruck delay suggests the 4680 battery cells are still far off from mass production. The 4680 battery cells, assuming they achieve promised benefits, are key to making the Cybertruck, Semi and Roadster viable. Musk said this week that the long-delayed Roadster might come in 2023.

In the meantime, the all-electric Rivian R1T pickup is set to begin deliveries this month, with the General Motors (GM) Hummer late this year. The Ford (F) F-150 Lightning follows in the spring of 2022.


Ah shit, these batteries we have to invent. Big problem. Couldn’t do the car without ‘em! Sorry! Please keep that stock price up while we get it figured out.

4th Gear: GM Taking A Lil Break Is All

The semiconductor chip shortage has been bad, and doesn’t appear to be getting much better. GM will start a two-week pause for pretty much everything but its big trucks and SUVs, as the Detroit Free Press reports:

General Motors will idle nearly all its assembly plants in North America starting Monday as the COVID-19 pandemic affects production of semiconductor chips overseas.

GM said its Arlington Assembly in Texas, where it makes its highly profitable full-size SUVs, will run regular production next week, along with Flint Assembly, where it makes its heavy-duty pickups, Bowling Green Assembly in Kentucky, where it makes its Corvette, and a portion of Lansing Grand River Assembly, where it will make some Chevrolet Camaro and Cadillac Blackwing cars.

But all other assembly plants in North America will idle starting Monday.

You know the big trucks and SUVs make GM all of its money because they’re the last things to get production stops.


5th Gear: Could Car Companies Be Legally On The Hook For Lack Of Climate Response?

A new suit in Germany could set a precedent for it, or at least as I kind of hope it might. From Reuters:

Greenpeace and German environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) will take legal action against Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, and gas and oil firm Wintershall Dea if they do not step up their policies to tackle climate change, they said on Friday.

The cases would be modeled on one brought against Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands last year arguing the company’s lack of climate action constituted a failure in its duty of care to citizens, which led to a court ruling in May mandating the company to reduce its CO2 output by 45% from 2019 levels by 2030.

Greenpeace and DUH demand that the automakers stop producing combustion engine cars by 2030 - earlier than the 2035 effective ban proposed by the EU in July - and that Wintershall Dea refrains from exploring any new oil and gas fields from 2026.


This is a fun kind of climate action, in that it feels like an actual threat to the world order as it stands.

Reverse: Campbell Got Along Better With Lakes That Were Dry

Via Wired:

Sept. 3, 1935: Campbell Shatters 300 MPH Barrier at Bonneville

Malcolm Campbell, at the wheel of his last customized “Bluebird” car, becomes the first driver to travel over 300 mph, breaking his own land-speed record for the ninth time in the process.

Campbell set his first record 11 years before at Pendine Sands in Wales, where he topped out at 146.6 mph. From there he inched upwards, breaking the 200 mph barrier in 1928, topping 250 in 1932 and getting past 275 on March 7, 1935, only six months before his historic ride at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats.


Neutral: How Was Your Experience Buying An EV?

How long did it take for the money to make its way back into your pocket?