Forth: Driving on electricity = getting gas for $1 per gallon.

Oregon’s leading expert on electric cars discusses the value of owning vehicles that run on voltage instead of fossil fuels

We sat down with Forth’s Executive Director, Jeff Allen, to learn more about Oregon’s new electric car rebate program, and how it’s helping make electric vehicles more accessible to more Oregonians. He also provided some great insights on the general benefits of electric vehicles, and how to know which one is right for you. Check it out:

Tell us about Oregon’s new electric car rebate program. What’s the philosophy behind needing to create incentives to encourage electric car use?

Electric cars are great–smooth rides, no emissions– but they’re still slightly more expensive up-front because of the cost of the battery. But they are much cheaper to operate, and charging (refueling) them is cheaper too. Driving on electricity is the equivalent of getting gas for $1 per gallon. So, if you can get that slightly more expensive car more easily into the hands of more consumers, more people will experience the immediate savings. And we’ll all experience the benefits of cleaner air, and less climate pollution.

How does the rebate program work?

Most people don’t buy a car based on its total lifetime cost of ownership. They buy it based on the sticker price. So incentives that lower the sticker price of an electric car help get people into the dealership to test drive a car and ultimately purchase it. Right now, consumers can take advantage of a $7,500 federal tax credit, and having an additional state electric car incentive is a great way to get more non-polluting cars on the road. Oregon’s electric car rebate will offer up to $2,500 off of a new electric car, for purchase or lease. There’s also an additional Charge Ahead rebate of up to $2,500 for low-income customers to buy or lease an electric car. The Charge Ahead rebate can be combined with the general one, resulting in a total of $5,000 in savings for new cars, or they can use it on a used car, which will have a lower total cost.

Just how expensive are electric cars? Are these rebates going to mostly help wealthier folks?

That’s a common misperception, but it’s not really true. There are a half dozen cars you can lease new for less than $200 per month, and three year-old used electric cars can be bought for under $10,000. So with these state rebates, there are a lot of affordable options out there. Furthermore, in order to qualify for Oregon’s electric vehicle rebate, a new car must have a base retail price of $50,000 or less.

Do car dealerships know about this rebate? Are they using it as a selling point?

Not yet. A lot more education around electric cars is needed, not just with car dealers, but with car buyers too. We still have some very basic myths to dispel when it comes to electric vehicles. Many people still can’t name one single type of electric car. Part of what Forth does is help inform people about what’s out there, and help them learn which vehicle would be good for their family and their lifestyle.

What else is keeping people from purchasing electric cars?

Well, the number one thing is that most people don’t know they are available as an option! We’re hoping the rebate will help get their attention. “Range anxiety” is also a real thing! People are worried that an electric car won’t take them where they need to go, when the reality is that it will. The average person drives maybe 20 miles a day, and people are prone to overestimate how much they drive. Many people don’t realize just how well an electric car will work for their lifestyle. You just need to purchase the electric car that works best for your lifestyle, and that could be an all electric vehicle, or a plug in hybrid that has a gas engine as backup.

Where can someone go to test out an electric car and figure out which one is right for them?

First, I recommend you visit our website and take this questionnaire to determine which electric car is right for you. Then, come by our showroom. We’ve got brand-neutral staff who can talk to you about different models, and we have several electric car models here you can test drive for free. We have charging stations you can play around with to get a feel for what those are like. It’s a great place to start and learn more.