Despite near-record fuel prices, Americans have yet to make a significant switch from gasoline to electric propulsion, whether in the form of conventional hybrids or battery-electric vehicles.
So far this year, in fact, advanced electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, have generated barely 2,000 sales, barely two days production of a vehicle like the big Ford F-150 pickup.
The Obama Administration hopes to switch on demand, however, by offering dealer-based incentives — much like the givebacks automakers routinely use to boost sales – rather than the current tax credit system that can take a buyer as much as a year to receive.
“We’d like for people to get a $7,500 rebate on the day they buy the Leaf,” said U.S. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood, during a visit to the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee that is being retooled to start building the Nissan Leaf.
Traditional automotive incentives are provided up front so that buyers can use them to reduce their down-payments and monthly notes. And by using the same approach for advanced battery vehicles, said LaHood, it would permit customers “to own a Leaf for what most average people can afford.”