Greenways column: The latest from Tesla, BMW and cities about electric cars, rebates and building more charging stations

by in News

In the words of Kermit The Frog, it’s not easy being green.

Tell that to Elon Musk and Tesla.

Tesla delivered 50,900 Model 3 sedans in the United States in the first quarter of 2019. That’s up 110 % from the first quarter of 2018.

But March numbers for the Model 3, Tesla’s lowest-priced long-range car that gets 220 miles to 315 miles per charge depending on the battery package, were disappointing — 10,175 in the U.S.

That’s largely because a lot are in transit to other countries. By March 31, about 10,600 Tesla Model 3s were still on a boat to China.

That’s right. China. Hey, maybe President Trump should get on the green-car bandwagon. It is one of the few exports to China from an American company.

InsideEvs magazine summed up the EV carmaker’s export business this way: “Tesla looks to be in pretty outstanding shape.”

In 2018, 361,307 plug-in electric vehicles were delivered in the U.S. Most experts say this number will go up this year, maybe even double.

Coming in a distant second to Tesla in March sales was the Chevy Bolt (2,166). Seems like for nearly the same price as a Tesla Model 3, Chevy’s long-range EV may be in trouble.

Tax-break talk

Let’s talk rebates, incentives, tax credits. People who buy or lease a battery-electric car or a plug-in hybrid such as a Chevy Volt or Honda Clarity PHEV or Toyota Prius Prime will be seeing more cash back.

The California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) offers up to $7,000 to the purchaser of a new zero-emission or plug-in hybrid.

These can be fuel cell cars, but most of those on the market are battery operated.

Some examples:

  • BMWi3 ($2,500);
  • Chevy Bolt ($2,500);
  • Fiat 500e ($2,500);
  • Tesla (all models, $2,500);
  • VW e-Golf ($2,500);
  • Nissan LEAF ($2,500);
  • And the newer ones: Hyundai Ioniq EV and Kona EV ($2,500) and Kia Niro EV ($2,500).

Southern California Edison just increased its rebate check, from $450 to a cool $1,000. And yes, if you were wondering, you can stack rebates.

Live in a city with their own utility, like say Pasadena? You can get $250-$750 depending on your income. Live in LA? Check with LADWP.

It’s too bad the federal tax credit is dropping from $7,500 to about half that for most carmakers. But that is just a credit applied to what you owe in taxes. Some may owe nothing so its not applicable. It doesn’t factor in unless you are leasing

A Chevy Volt being getting a free electric charging at one of two charging stations in Pasadena on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (FILE Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)

Charging up

With so many more EVs on the road, finding public charging stations is getting harder and harder. That is holding back folks from buying who still want to make that drive to Santa Barbara or Palm Springs.

The problem is in multi-family dwellings. Many rebates are offered for residential customers. For example, SCE will pay you $1,500 toward the cost of Level 2 (240-volt) home charger. Pasadena Water and Power is offering up to $6,000. Glendale Water and Power gives $500 or $2,000 for a commercial site.

But getting the apartment owner or condo complex HOA to install electric chargers is much, much harder.

About 3,800 people in Glendale have applied for state rebates since 2011, said Herbert Garcia, GWP’s marketing manager at a meeting in March. Glendale is working on adding four more public chargers in the next month. Also, the city is looking into installing curbside chargers near apartment complexes. Pasadena and Tesla will add 44 chargers in one place by the end of this year.

More EV notes

  • The gifts keep coming. Glendale will get 35 free charging stations from the AQMD, which received them as a gift from Mercedes-Benz. The city may give them away free via a lottery system.
  •  Those Germans. Car and Driver reporter Daniel Golson spotted a BMW i4 on a car carrier. It is said to go 373 miles on a charge. Due out in 2021.
  •  There’s an app for that. It’s called ampup.io. People put their home chargers on a list and share them, like Airbnbs for EV chargers.
  • Fueling savings: Even if you could care less about the environment, or your grandchildren’s future on this planet, the cost to fuel an EV is one-third to one-half the cost of a gasoline-powered car.
  • Getting greener: Please hold the emails that say these cars don’t help reduce pollution or greenhouse gases. California is leaning toward 50 percent renewable sources and will be 100 percent by 2045, some say even earlier. So electricity is getting even more greener. It’s already greener than refining, transporting and burning gasoline.

Steve Scauzillo covers public health, environment and green transportation for the Southern California News Group. He’s a recipient of the Aldo Leopold Award for Distinguished Editorial Writing. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @stevscaz or email him at sscauzillo@scng.com.