Electric vehicle rebates may be cut in Illinois | local news

Legislation in the Illinois General Assembly would make it more difficult to qualify for a rebate on the purchase of an electric vehicle.

In January 2023, rebates of up to $4,000 on electric vehicles and $1,500 on electric motorcycles became available in Illinois. In the first year, Illinois’ electric vehicle rebate program cost taxpayers $19 million. That means nearly 4,900 EV buyers get $4,000 in rebates. Of these, only about 10% were low-income individuals, although the program prioritizes these applicants. Among those receiving discounts were nearly 300 luxury models costing up to $125,000, as The Center Square previously reported. The second round of the program amounted to $12 million.

State Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, said the program as it stands is not sustainable, especially regarding state budget issues.

“Unfortunately, this is the direction we need to go now given our budget constraints, but hopefully in the future we can offer this to more Illinoisans,” Williams said during a House Revenue and Finance Committee hearing last week.

There simply isn’t enough money, said Laura Roche, chief of staff for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

“Over the past 12 months, there have been about 32,000 new electric vehicles registered in the state,” Roche said. “If we were to give all those cars a discount, that would be about $128 million, and we had $12 million to work with this year.” So this is our proposal to turn it into a low-income program only.

House Bill 5286 would change those eligible for the electric vehicle rebate program to a lower income limit of 80% of the median household income, or about $42,000. About 12% of applicants to the program consider themselves low-income.

Electric vehicle sales have slowed in Illinois and the rest of the country. The high cost and anxiety of shipping are reasons for many.

Now there is news that Chinese automaker BYD has launched an electric car called Seagull for around $12,000. Industry experts said the car drives well and was assembled with skill that rivals American electric cars.

Tariffs on imported Chinese cars will keep Seagull out of the US for now.

Electric motorcycle sales aren’t much better, said Josh Witkowski of the motorcycle advocacy group ABATE in Illinois.

“We are seeing a sudden contraction,” Witkowski said. “We have already seen two companies go bankrupt this year, and the lack of sales is unexpected.”

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