A Great Time for an Electric Car


(The environment will thank you!)


If you are in the market for a new car, this is a great time to consider an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid.  Electric cars are going mainstream and terrific incentives are available now to build market share.  A Stow family recently purchased a Chevy Volt and said, “We received almost $18,000 in tax credits, rebates, and discounts.  It is almost too good to believe, but this won’t last.  Some of these programs are due to run out this winter if not extended.”

All-electric and plug-in hybrid cars are being introduced at a rapid pace.  Today there are more than 20 models from a dozen different brands ranging in size and price to suit a wide range of needs.  And, in case you thought electric cars were out of your price range, after incentives some electric cars cost less than a gasoline powered compact.  You may be eligible for federal and state tax credits and rebates of up to $10,000, and there are additional discounts, for a limited period, from select dealers through the non-profit Mass Energy Consumer Alliance.  In addition, you will save money operating the car with Hudson Light & Power’s low electric rates and help save the environment through its clean sources of electricity. The cost of electricity per mile for an electric car in Stow is about half that of the fuel cost for a new gas powered car.

Running on electricity, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles emit no greenhouse gas (GHG).  However, GHG may be emitted when the electricity itself is generated.  So the overall GHG emissions depend on how “clean” the source of electricity is.  With 80% of Hudson Light & Power’s electricity generated from sources that emit no greenhouse gas, the GHG emissions from an electric vehicle in Stow are about a fifth of those from a new gasoline powered car.  Transportation is the single largest source of GHG in the state, representing over 40% of total emissions, and in Stow the percent is even larger — nearly 2/3 of residential GHG emissions are due to vehicle use.  So not only are electric cars a great value; they are also the largest contribution you can make towards reducing your “carbon footprint” and combatting climate change.

All-electric cars run solely on electricity while plug-in hybrids run on electricity until the battery is depleted when a backup gasoline-powered motor takes over.  In general, all-electric cars have a larger battery and longer range running on electricity.  A plug-in hybrid has a smaller battery and shorter all-electric range, but the total range for a plug-in hybrid, including the time running on the backup gasoline motor, is similar to a standard gasoline-powered vehicle.  Plug-in hybrids benefit from very low fuel cost and GHG emissions only while running on the battery.  When deciding which car is best for you, consider how you will use the vehicle.  If the car will mostly be driven locally, or there is a second car for long distance driving, an all-electric vehicle may be the better choice.  If the car will be used for long distance driving, than consider a plug-in hybrid since the gasoline-powered backup engine can be refueled at any service station.  Examples of all-electric cars are the Tesla and Nissan Leaf, while the Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid.  Both electric and plug-in hybrids need to have their batteries recharged.  Recharging is done at home or at any site with a recharging station.

Plug-in hybrids and all electric vehicles differ from “standard” hybrids like the Toyota Prius.  Standard hybrids have both an electric and gasoline powered motor like plug-in hybrids.  However, the battery in a standard hybrid is charged only through regenerative braking and is much smaller than the battery in either a plug-in hybrid or all electric vehicle and can run for only short distance on electricity alone.  Standard hybrids do get excellent mileage compared to most gasoline only vehicles but not as good as plug-in hybrids or all electric vehicles.  They also do not qualify for the incentives offered for the purchase or lease of an electric car.

Tax credits, rebates, and dealer discounts vary between different models of electric and plug-in hybrid cars.  Check the following sites to find out the incentives for a particular vehicle.