Thinking of switching to an EV? Fuel up on patience - Albuquerque Journal

Thinking of switching to an EV? Fuel up on patience

Judith Polich

Like many of you, I decided I would reduce my fossil fuel dependence with a switch from a gas-guzzler to a small hybrid car. Even though I have rooftop solar, I wasn’t quite ready to go fully electric.

I ordered a Honda Insight early last year and it came in a month or two. I was lucky since there was a car shortage. Most carmakers had delays on new cars. Even used hybrids were hard to get. So were plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). Prices went up.

My partner had ordered a hybrid in October 2021. We were told it would take a few months. Then, there was one delay after the other. It was a new model – the 2022 Ford Maverick, the first small hybrid pick-up truck. There were supply chain issues and who knows what else. We were told to eliminate any extras as they might delay things, so we did. We cancelled racks, a cover and anything else that might slow things down. And we regularly checked the owner blogs for information, since the dealers didn’t know any more than we did. We were told, “it should be here by early 2022, then maybe spring, then summer, then certainly by October, a year since it was ordered.”

Then, we were told it would not be a 2022 model at all. They stopped making them and could not fill the back orders. We hoped to get priority over the other 2023s. So, when we got the notice a few weeks ago that the truck was built and would be shipped for delivery in early January 2023, it felt like a Christmas miracle.

If that gives you pause, it should, but it is also the new normal. We live in New Mexico. It is a small market. If you want something fast, you may have to go out of state to Colorado or California, especially for electric cars. And if it is a new model, as many EVs are, expect a delay.

I do want to get an electric car. I have my eye on the Chevy Equinox EV. It is due out in 2024. They say the first 2024s should hit the market in late 2023. I don’t believe a word of it. I am guessing mid 2024 or later.

It is supposed to be about $30,000 and get up to 300 miles on a charge. That is an amazing price, so I know sales of this car will take off.

There are still a lot of unknowns, such as what it will really cost and what are the incentives? This is where it gets a little muddled. We know that tax credits of $7,500 are available to most buyers of electric cars under the Inflation Reduction Act. Just what cars and how much will not be known until the Treasury issues its new rules in March this year.

According to an Associated Press article published recently in The Hill, these incentives will apply only to cars made in the United States. They will also affect battery minerals and battery assembly. Initially, 40% of battery minerals will have to come from North America or a country with which we have an agreement, or be recycled in North America; and 50% of the batteries have to be assembled here. Those percentages will rise to 80-100%, respectively.

Most GM cars are made in the states, but the batteries are not. GM says its EVS should qualify for half the credit by March and the full credit by 2025. The rules are also changing so the credit will be available at purchase, rather than claimed later on your taxes.

So, how much do you want to pay for your new EV, hybrid or plug-in? Most of us are banking on the full credit. If the Equinox comes in around $30,000, the full $7,500 credit at closing means it is an amazing bargain at $22,500. Will they be able to pull off the battery requirements by 2025?

It is a big unknown. Do I take the $3,500 incentive or wait and risk a price increase? I plan to wait a bit until the dust settles. I want to see what the new Treasury information says about battery sourcing and minerals requirements. It is likely those rules will be lowered at some point and the full EV credit will be available more widely. In any case, whether I put in an order now or later, I am prepared to wait and wait.

Judith Polich is a New Mexico resident and a climate change columnist. She can be reached at judith.polich@gmail.com.

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