Buyer incentives helping US become leader in electric car sales

When it comes to cars, more Americans are switching from gas to electricity. The U.S. is now the second-biggest seller of electric vehicles behind China, and the shift to cleaner, more energy-efficient cars is getting a big boost in Colorado.

“This is Nissan’s flagship EV,” says Josh Skwarek, showing off the new all-electric ARIYA model at Empire Lakewood Nissan near Denver.

Skwarek, a “client advisor” at the dealership, says electric vehicles are flying off the lot.

In Colorado, 13% of all cars sold so far in 2023 are electric, nearly doubling the numbers from two years ago.

Carrie Atiyeh with the Colorado Energy Office says what’s happening in Colorado is no accident. This month, the state began offering a $5,000 tax credit for EV buyers. Add in a federal tax credit, and Atiyeh says the incentive jumps to $12,500.

“There’s those ongoing savings as well,” Atiyeh tells Scripps News. “So electric vehicle consumers can save up to 75% on their fuel costs when they are charging at home compared to purchasing their gas at the pump. And there’s also up to 40% savings on maintenance costs.”

With Colorado’s help, the U.S. is becoming a top EV seller, overtaking second place from Germany, where demand for Volkswagen’s EV models recently stalled. In America, brands like Tesla and Rivian are seeing sales and stock prices speed up.

By 2030, Colorado wants to have nearly a million EVs on the road. The goal is to dramatically cut the number of gas-powered cars helping heat the planet.

“Right now transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado. So in order to meet our targets, we know that we need to be able to focus on the transportation sector and electric vehicles,” Atiyah says.

There’s also the challenge of convincing skeptical buyers that an electric car won’t leave them stranded. Colorado already has 4,800 charging stations and is adding more. None will be more than 50 miles from the next, Atiyah says.

Skwarek says it’s Colorado’s dollar incentives — the highest in the country — that are doing the most to bring more buyers onto EV car lots.

“It’s incredible what that does. It kind of advances people in the process, and just gives people one more reason to make that switchover.”

Colorado officials are hoping that EV sales get even hotter, as part of a solution they believe will help keep the planet from doing the same.