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2010 Tax Credits for Hybrids and Electric Vehicles

This latest CNN article on the tax breaks California residents [3] can get on plug-in hybrids surprised the heck out of me – you could get a Nissan Leaf ($32,5000) for only $17,000 after federal, state, and local tax credits. The federal government would offer a $7500 tax credit, California would offer a $5,000 rebate, and San Joaquin Valley offers $3,000 in rebates.

That made me wonder where other vehicles stood in the whole tax incentive world, to which I turned to FuelEconomy.gov [4]. They break down the credits into five categories – diesels, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, and alternative fuel vehicles. We’ve taken a look at these in the past but I thought they deserved another look.

Hybrid Vehicles

The hybrid tax credit [5] of up to $3,400 will expire at the end of this year (December 31, 2010) and many manufacturers have already seen this credit expire, which starts after they have sold $60,000 vehicles. Ford, Mercury, Honda, Toyota, and Lexus vehicles are no longer eligible for this credit (if you purchased a Ford or Mercury vehicle before March 31st, 2010 then you get a 25% credit). All other eligible hybrids still get 100% of credit until the end of the year.

Plugin Hybrids

There’s only one plugin hybrid eligible for a federal tax credit and it’s the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, with a $7,500 full credit. Chevrolet has yet to reach the 60,000 vehicle limit so there’s no schedule for the phase out just yet.


There are only two electrical vehicles eligible for the $7,500 credit and they are the 2010 CODA sedan and the 2008-2010 Tesla Roadster. Again, neither manufacturer has reach the 60,000 car limit so the phaseout schedule not yet started.

I’ve long believed that buying an electric or hybrid vehicle is more a passion play than a financial decision. The higher cost of the vehicle, even if offset by the tax credit, is usually much more than what you would save in fuel. That being said, I think there’s something to be said about finding ways to wean ourselves off this fossil fuel addiction.

(Photo: jurvetson [6])