Texas is helping people plug in to plug-ins. The state has brought back a green vehicle incentive program after a three-year hiatus. It offers a $2,500 discount on the purchase of all-electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel cell vehicles. The program also offers a $5,000 rebate on vehicles that run on natural gas or liquefied petroleum. It applies to vehicles purchased between Sept. 1, 2017 and May 31, 2019.
Electric car sales and production have grown in recent years and received much hype, but the cars still haven't caught on with most consumers. "Especially in Texas, I will tell you that people just haven't embraced the all-electric car yet," says KTRH Car Pro Jerry Reynolds. "There is this thing called range anxiety where people get nervous, wondering where can I go and make sure I don't run out of battery power."
Reynolds is also dubious of the program being retroactive to last year. "If somebody's bought an electric car or a natural gas or a plug-in hybrid since last September, they can get the money," he says. "And to me, that's not a real incentive, if somebody has already bought one."
Another possible snag in the program is the absence of one of the biggest names in electric cars, Tesla. That's because Texas law still prohibits Tesla's direct sale model, so only vehicles sold through dealerships are eligible for the rebate program.
But more than anything, Reynolds doesn't believe any incentive program will entice a lot of Texans to abandon their traditional cars, especially in cities like Houston with large driving distances where drivers would have to constantly search for charging stations. "They just don't want to have to worry about (charging)," he says. "I mean, it's easier to go to a gas station once a week than it is to charge a car every single day."