From Bea Wray

When I first purchased my hybrid Ford Fusion in 2013, I was starting a position with a one hour commute from Hilton Head, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia. The drive was mostly on two lane roads, some not very safe. So, I was seeking a car that was sturdy and large enough to allow me to feel safe without breaking the bank at the gas pump. Average gas prices in 2012 had peaked at $3.62 per gallon so the 45 miles to the gallon Fusion was a welcome statistic. Now the national average is about $2.42 and I have only a 10 minute commute. I still love the green light whenever I turn off my car that says, “Thanks for Driving a Hybrid!” I wonder, “Do other South Carolina consumers choose Hybrid vehicles and why?”

California is one of the nation’s leading states regarding innovative electric vehicle programs. The state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project is the country’s largest electric vehicle rebate program and has grown from an annual budget of $4.1 million to a cumulative budget of over $120 million. Three of the perks for driving a PEV are:

  1. Clean Vehicle Rebate which is a single payment rebate check mailed directly to the applicant as long as funding is available;
  2. Federal Tax credit which can be up to $7,500 if you owe that amount or more in Federal income tax and your model of PEV qualifies based on its battery capacity; and
  3. A decal allowing you to drive in the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane even if you are riding solo. I can imagine that this last perk is especially relevant. When my father worked in Los Angeles and commuted to our home in Orange County it took 46 minutes in 1977. Today Google Maps estimates that same route to take 2 hours and 28 minutes!My non-plug-in hybrid is not included on the list of cars that qualify on the Drive Clean website that highlights some of the California incentives for driving a plug-in electric vehicle (PEV). This list begins in 2013 with 14 cars from Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Tesla, Chevy, Honda, and others. By 2018, the list has multiplied and virtually every automaker is present.South Carolina does not have a similar incentive program for driving an electric vehicle and I am not aware of anyone doing the necessary work with utilities, municipalities, and automakers to put one into place here. I did learn through this link. that some commercial and public buildings offer parking for PEV customers only. Also, Duke Energy offers funding up to $5,000 per charging port, $20,000 per site, or $50,000 per city for EV charging as part of the EV Charging Infrastructure Project. Finally, some South Carolina insurance companies offer discounts on PEVs. These are all encouraging starts.California also has statewide consumer outreach and education efforts on the benefits of electric transportation and there is EV charging infrastructure throughout Southern California, Central Valley, and Bay Area regions. They even have the nation’s first deployment of ISO 15118-compatible charging stations in partnership with UC San Diego.I wondered why other states like California are further ahead of South Carolina in the EV space. I question if South Carolina’s high electricity rates might slow such progress regarding electric vehicles. However, explains that although South Carolina rates are high, they are exceeded by what Californians pay to flip a switch. Economics certainly play a big factor, and it’s part of the reason I got my hybrid five years ago.