Volt Wins a Round in Congress: $5,000 So Far

September 17, 2008
As Nancy Pelosi will tell you, House Resolution 6899, the "offshore drilling bill," is one hotly contested piece of legislation. Bet you didn't know it also contains a plug-in hybrid tax credit, one that Toyota rather vocally opposed yesterday. Further, the bill mandates that all gas stations offer an "alternative fuel pump" by 2018, and goes on to explain that means natural gas, E85 or higher, biodiesel, renewable diesel, or hydrogen. The addendum to this addendum throws a nice $50,000 tax credit to stations that choose to go with an E85 pump. Somehow, we doubt biodiesel pumps are going to start springing up across the country.

Kicking Tires, by way of Autoblog, explains that the proposed credit would apply to plug-in hybrid vehicles with batteries of at least 5 kWh. Starting at $3,000, the credit increases in increments of $200 for each kilowatt hour over five and maxes out at $5,000. Being that the 2011 Chevy Volt is currently the only plug-in hybrid confirmed for sale, GM stands to gain most from this little post-script to HB 6899 to the tune of a $5,000 credit. No wonder Toyota is complaining that the wording of the bill reserves the best of the credits for only the Volt.

The bill passed the House, but it faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where an alternate version is in the works. The Senate version would give drilling even more leeway than the House's expansion beyond a 50-mile coastal buffer. It might also raise the credits for alternative vehicles; GM's Bob Lutz told TheCarConnection.com yesterday that his company was looking for higher incentives for the Volt to be feasible--$7,500 in tax credits--and GM's good connections in Washington are likely hard at work on a back channel.--Colin Mathews

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