Fiscal Cliff Resolution Extends EV Credit

January 4, 2013
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Tax hikes and spending cuts dominated holiday headlines as the federal government teetered on the edge of the Fiscal Cliff. The legislative package passed on New Year’s Day to resolve the issue, dubbed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, also included several tax credit extensions that didn’t generate as much media interest – including one for electric motorcycles.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) sponsored the amendment extending the EV tax credit, which covers 10% of the cost of a qualified electric vehicle, up to $2500. Vehicles must be a two- or three-wheeled plug-in electric designed “primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways” and “capable of achieving a speed of 45 miles per hour or greater.”

This new qualifying language in the amendment narrows the scope of eligible vehicles exclusively to electric motorcycles. A release issued by Sen. Wyden’s office clarifies the new credit “specifically eliminated low speed vehicles like electric golf carts from being eligible for the consolidated tax credit.”

Wyden argues that extending the tax credit will help generate jobs in the growing electric motorcycle industry. The press statement from the senator’s office claims “the electric motorcycle industry is expected to create nearly 2,000 jobs in just the next 18 months and more than 16,000 jobs over the next 5 years.”

Many of those jobs will be filled by Wyden’s constituents, as Oregon is home to several electric vehicle enterprises. Most notable are Ashland-based Brammo (located just miles from Motorcycle USA headquarters in Medford) and Portland’s MotoCzysz. Another firm, Arcimoto, produces three-wheeled electric vehicles and is based in Eugene. (Barefoot Motors produced electric ATV/UTV in Ashland before folding in 2010.)

“The electric motorcycle industry is poised to create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs over the next five years, led by companies like Oregon’s Brammo,” said Wyden. “This amendment helps promote the development of a promising U.S. industry and support the transition to a low-carbon American economy.”

Wyden and his Democratic Senate colleague from Oregon, Jeff Merkley, both voted for the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Oregon’s delegation to the House Representatives split on the vote. Republican Greg Walden voted in favor of the bill, with his Second Congressional District covering eastern and southern Oregon including Ashland (Brammo). Suzanne Bonamici, a Democrat whose district encompasses MotoCzysz HQ, also voted in favor. The remainder of Oregon’s congressional representatives – Democrats Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio – all crossed party lines to vote against the bill (three of 16 Democratic Reps to do so). Arcimoto is based in DeFazio’s congressional district.

The full text of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 is available online from the Government Printing Office (GPO). The tax credit extension for electric motorcycles is found in Title IV – Energy Tax Extenders, Section 403 – Extension of Credit for 2- or 3-Wheeled Plug-In Electric Vehicles.

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