Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tennessee to offer $2,500 rebates on Nissan Leaf electric car

State officials hope to give a boost to electric car sales with a $2,500 incentive to early buyers of the Nissan Leaf in Tennessee via a program that could later be extended to buyers of other alternative fuel vehicles.
Gov. Phil Bredesen, speaking during a TVA conference on electric vehicles Wednesday, said the state plans to tap a petroleum escrow fund marked for energy projects to provide rebates of $2,500 to the first 1,000 buyers of the new Nissan Leaf electric car later this year.

"There's no reason Tennessee can't take the lead … in the development of electric vehicles," the governor said. "We want their components to be made here and sold worldwide with a 'Made in Tennessee' label."

The $2.5 million state program, which provides perks on purchases in addition to generous federal incentives to buyers of electric cars, makes Tennessee at least the second state with such extra benefits. California has a $5,000 incentive for buyers of all-electric, plug-in vehicles.

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Consumers will be able to apply for the Tennessee rebates at Nissan dealers where they buy their Leafs, the governor said. Cars will have to be registered and delivered within the state's borders to qualify.

And even though the program is limited to the first 1,000 applicants now, Bredesen said there'll be up to $8 million left in the petroleum account that could be used to extend the program, as well as to expand it to include vehicles such as the new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

The Volt will go on sale in Tennessee sometime next year several months after the Leaf rolls out.

Buyers are already signing up to order the Leaf, which will be made at first in Japan, but they will be built in Smyrna by 2012.

Bredesen said the state's $2,500 rebate, coupled with an available $7,500 federal tax credit, would "about even out the premium (charged) for an electric car" versus a car with a traditional gasoline engine.

The Leaf, which goes on sale in Tennessee and five other states in December, has a base price of $32,780, which would be reduced to $22,780 with the federal and state incentives.

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