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Barry Kresch is no used car salesman, save in one respect — he’ll readily sell you on the idea of buying a used electric vehicle, as Connecticut puts in place a new $3,000 rebate to help families who are below income thresholds purchase an EV. As head of the EV Club of Connecticut, Kresch has been leading the charge for the state to bolster its incentive programs for the purchase of battery-electric and hybrid cars — not to mention those powered by fuel cells that produce a flow of electricity from hydrogen to power a car.

Thinking about buying an EV? The place to start shopping is the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate program (CHEAPR), which keeps an updated list of makes and models eligible for state incentives. If it’s the $80,000 Porsche Taycan EV or an all-electric motorcycle you’re after, you are on your own. But the state will help you out with many electric vehicles priced below $42,000 (Tesla’s models 3 and Y make the cut), and $60,000 for those powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Couple that with federal tax credits, as they may be able to apply toward any tax liability, and you can chip off a large chunk of the cost. Here are some pointers to get you charged up and ready to enter the EV market.

What you get for your money

Adding in incentives but leaving out dealer fees, taxes, manufacturer discounts and any artful haggling on your part, a little over $20,000 will get you a Hyundai Ioniq PHEV compact hybrid that uses a small combustion engine to recharge the battery while driving. A base Tesla Model 3 sedan — the best-selling electric vehicle in the world — goes in the ballpark of $33,000. The Hyundai Nexo crossover, which runs hydrogen through a fuel cell to create electricity, goes for north of $45,000 after incentives. To qualify for CHEAPR, vehicles must be purchased in Connecticut.

About those incentives ...

Under CHEAPR, the state is raising its existing $1,500 incentive for battery electric vehicles to $2,250, with the $500 rebate for hybrid-electric vehicles getting a bump to $750. But it is with the federal tax credit that the savings really add up, with income tax credits of up to $7,500 for folks with that kind of liability. When Tesla and GM produced their 2,000th EV cars, they no longer qualified for the federal EV tax credit. “The EV community is pretty optimistic that this administration and this Congress is going to modify that so that Tesla and GM will again be eligible,” Kresch says.

How much will I save?

study published last year by the National Energy Research Laboratory included a state-by-state analysis of savings based on gas prices, charging equipment and off-peak electric rates, among other factors. In Connecticut, EV savings added up roughly to between $7,600 and $8,000 on average for electric vehicles over an average 15-year lifespan, but with the range of savings far wider across all vehicle makes, at anywhere from $1,500 to $11,000. Kresch says that while many people focus on savings at the pump versus the plug, many don’t envision another possibility. “Your maintenance will be close to zero, at least for the first few years,” Kresch says. “There are many fewer moving parts.”

About that range thing …

Saving money still trumps “range anxiety” among those considering an electric vehicle, according to survey results published in February by J.D. Power, with respondents who commute more expressing greater willingness to purchase one. Among Tesla models and battery electric vehicles that qualify for CHEAPR incentives, the state lists a Mini Cooper with the shortest range at 110 miles, with a Tesla Model 3 able to coast beyond 260 miles, enough to furnish a quiet ride from Greenwich to Mystic and back. Depending on your weekend trip preference, Cape Cod and Vermont are within range — barely — but much further and you are stopping off to recharge. If you have a vehicle that can handle fast charging — “Level 3” in the industry parlance — you are looking at topping off the battery “tank” in an hour.

Got the keys — what about the plug?

A garage charger will cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,000, at the higher end for a “smart” charger that has a WiFi connection for monitoring from a smartphone. And of course, installation will cost you. As Kresch points out, you will need to foot the cost as well of pulling a permit and having a qualified electrician run a line into your garage.  

What’s next?

SUVs and trucks, of course, from startups like Rivian and Lordstown Motors, and established manufacturers like Ford, including an all-electric version of its mainstay Ford F-150 pickup. “EUVs — you’ll see a lot of those coming out pretty soon,” Kresch says. “I think the industry is going to start seeing different business models as well. … Canoo is going with a subscription model — you are going to see different flavors.”

This article appears in the May 2021 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.