The Baker administration is expanding the eligibility for an electric vehicle rebate program to include medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, hoping to capture some immediate environmental benefits while taking a step towards a future in which all vehicles sold in Massachusetts are zero-emissions vehicles.
Vehicles roughly weighing 8,500 pounds and up — think large pickup trucks and vans, delivery trucks, box trucks, and long-haul delivery trucks — purchased Tuesday or later are now be eligible for a state financial incentive through the Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles (MOR-EV) program.
The expansion is made possible by a December 2019 allocation from the Legislature, $10 million of which will go toward the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle incentives.
“There is an incredible amount of interest in this specific sector, delivery trucks, from some of the larger owners of these vehicles from Amazon to the Postal Service and what it can do to lower operating costs and provide cleaner air,” Patrick Woodcock, commissioner of the Department of Energy Resources, said. “So we want to be at the vanguard of this and help companies that want to do their part to be part of the net-zero future.”
Under the MOR-EV program, consumers can be eligible for a rebate of $2,500 on the purchase of an all-electric passenger vehicle or $1,500 for a plug-in hybrid with a range of at least 25 miles on a battery charge. The vehicle must also have a sticker price under $50,000.
As the program expands to include medium- and heavy-duty trucks, rebate values will vary by vehicle weight rating, from $7,500 for pickup trucks up to $90,000 for tractor-trailer trucks. For the trucks program, the sticker price of the vehicle must be greater than $50,000. The value of the rebates will decline over time, which the Baker administration said is in recognition of “the anticipated cost declines of the emerging battery-electric and fuel-cell electric truck sector.”
Last year, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a commitment with 14 other states and the District of Columbia to accelerate the market for electric trucks, and agreed to a goal for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles of at least 30 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.
Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles account for about 14 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts, but they do more to exacerbate underlying air quality issues than passenger cars because they tend to operate for longer periods of time.
Woodcock said DOER is adding a new wrinkle to the MOR-EV program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Any vehicle that is registered in or operates primarily in an environmental justice neighborhood — communities that are mostly made up of people with lower incomes and people of color that are at risk of being disparately and negatively impacted by environmental policies — will be eligible for a 10 percent boost in the incentive.
Zero-emission vehicles are a major part of the Baker administration’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Meeting the administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 will “require that about 1 million of the 5.5 million [passenger vehicles] projected to be registered in the Commonwealth in 2030 be” zero-emission vehicles, the administration said in its 2050 decarbonization plan, which also calls for a requirement that all new cars and passenger trucks sold in Massachusetts be zero-emission vehicles starting in 2035.
In its press release announcing the latest MOR-EV expansion Tuesday, the Baker administration pointed out that its 2050 decarbonization roadmap “noted that early piloting and planning through the 2020s will be necessary to prepare for more deeply decarbonizing fleets in the 2030s.”
Massachusetts and seven other states in 2013 committed to putting 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the street by 2025, but the state has significantly trailed its 300,000-vehicles target under that agreement. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said there were 36,415 qualifying zero-emission vehicle sales in Massachusetts through the end of 2020, meaning the state is about 12 percent to its target. Jointly, the states that signed the MOU have sold about 28.5 percent of the zero-emissions vehicles they agreed to sell.
Since the MOR-EV program started in 2014, Massachusetts state government has given out about $37.7 million in rebates for the purchase of 18,487 vehicles, according to the program’s website. The state estimates that the vehicles purchased through the program since 2014 have cumulatively offset more than 46,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Tesla has been the top manufacturer of vehicles purchased in Massachusetts with a rebate, followed by Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan and Ford. Aside from Tesla, Quirk Chevrolet in Braintree has sold more electric vehicles with rebates in Massachusetts than any other dealership, with 1,505. The next closest dealership, Mirak Chevrolet in Arlington, has sold 506 electric vehicles with rebates.