HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Will this be the year lawmakers allow direct sales of electric vehicles in Connecticut? On Wednesday, several companies showed off their electric vehicles at the Capital.
Because of laws on the books, Connecticut consumers have to go online right now to purchase one of these cars. There are two bills before lawmakers that could change that.
Transportation is the greatest contributor to dirty air in Connecticut. But unless you are a car dealer with a franchise license, you cannot sell any of these electric vehicles to Connecticut drivers concerned about the environment.
State Sen. Will Haskell, a Democrat on the Transportation Committee, said lawmakers have a choice.
“Whether or not you think that the consumer should be in the driver’s seat as to where they buy their next vehicle, or whether you think they should be bound by franchise laws that were passed in the 1930s.”
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York allow direct sales from manufacturers. But some say regulating the new frontier is tricky.
Republican State Sen. Craig Miner sits on the Environment Committee and says there are concerns.
“Historically, we have expressed strong concerns about the current status of automobile sales and are concerned about whether franchise law would need to be changed and what would happen to dealers that currently exist?”
The cost of EVs remains expensive. Tesla by law cannot talk about sales or price in Connecticut. Online figures show a $40,000 price tag.
A gold Lucid limited-edition sedan is $169,000. It goes zero to 60 miles an hour in two seconds.
The first EV pick-up truck by Rivian retails for $73,000.
If passed, the second piece of legislation would allow for a $5,000 state rebate for qualifying customers.
“We’re making more vehicles eligible under the rebate program. And by the way, we’re adding bikes because we know that not every family can afford a vehicle,” Haskell said.
Tax dollars raised through a charge on electric bills and registering your car at DMV would fund the rebates. Miner said whether that will mean long-term viability for the program is debatable.
“Should we be actually incentivizing the purchase of an electric bike at a time when a number of people are complaining about the cost of living?”
There is no engine on the Rivian so there is room for other things like a gear tunnel.
John Stephenson from Rivian Automotive explains the space which sits right behind the back seat and truck bed.
“The gear tunnel transverse is the vehicle. It’s lockable, it’s watertight. It’s where we keep the camp kitchen. You can also keep your skis, your fishing poles, whatever tools, equipment, the gear you would venture with.”
$53 million in federal infrastructure money will pay for the build-out of charging stations. Right now, only 450 exist in our state.
For manufacturers looking to enter the Connecticut market, it is about consumer choice.
“There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of demand for these vehicles. People increasingly want to go to electric because of high gas prices. They’re concerned about the environment,” Stephenson said.
The two pieces of legislation are sitting on the Senate calendar. It is unclear whether lawmakers will bring them up for a vote.