At this year's Connecticut Auto show, electric vehicles (EVs) stole the show. In fact, the Hartford Courant's headline said it all: "Connecticut International Auto Show Opens With Focus on Electric Cars." With thousands of participants in attendance, the show was the perfect arena to educate people about the wide range of benefits of EVs.
Governor Dannel Malloy, the mayor-elect of Hartford, and the Connecticut Electric Vehicle Coalition agreed. In fact, the ribbon-cutting of the auto show featured an award to the governor about his work to propel Connecticut's EVs forward. In presenting the award to the governor, Sierra Club volunteer leader Martin Mador said, "we're fortunate that Governor Malloy, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Auto Retailer Association, and others are starting to put the pedal to the metal. . . in jump-starting Connecticut's electric vehicle market."
Connecticut boasts what we believe is the most comprehensive EV consumer rebate program in the country, called CHEAPR. In addition to a $7,500 federal tax credit, Connecticut residents have access to a state rebate of up to $3,000 for the purchase or lease of a plug-in car. Unlike in other states with rebates where the consumer fills out a form and gets the rebate check weeks or months after getting the car, in Connecticut, the rebate happens right at the dealership, so the money is cash on the hood of the car. Additionally, in Connecticut the auto dealers have an incentive too; they get a small cut as well.
Recently, Connecticut's Department of Energy & Environmental Protection announced an extension of this rebate program and released an adorable short video to show consumers just how compelling it is to consider EVs. We encourage you to show it to your family at the Thanksgiving table, even if you don't live in Connecticut.
At the auto show, the Electric Vehicle Coalition Booth received plenty of visitors and promotion. Over the course of the weekend, we were able to speak to hundreds of visitors to talk up EVs and the State Rebate Program. The BMW i3 was one of the most popular displays visited outside in the lobby, and the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf also received their fair share of visitors on the showroom floor.
From folks who don't own an electric car or hybrid, to those who focus more on renewable energy issues, to individuals who who have never been engaged in advocacy for environmental issues, the EV Coalition volunteers were quite diverse. These dedicated volunteers and community members from numerous organizations, including the Connecticut Sierra Club Chapter, were enthusiastic and engaging. They spoke to vendors, auto-makers, auto dealers -- anyone and everyone about electric cars. An overwhelming number of participants thought it was terrific that there were electric cars at the show and they wanted MORE models, they wanted ride and drives, and they wanted better signs and promotion for these vehicles that includes all of the benefits and incentives for making a purchase.
Jameelah Muhammad is a Senior Organizing Representative focused on Connecticut and Massachusetts for Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative, and Gina Coplon-Newfield is the Director of the Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative.