LaHood Visits Nissan Battery Facility, Says Tax Credit Reforms Are Coming
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood visited Nissan's plant in Smyrna, Tenn., today to check out construction of the carmaker's new $1.4 billion battery facility there. When it opens in 2012, the 475,000 sq.-ft. factory will be the largest of its kind in the United States, with a production capacity of 200,000 batteries per year. The secretary also took the opportunity to promote the Obama administration's efforts on behalf of electric vehicles, and to underline their importance in the face of rising fuel prices.
At the top of current agenda is reforming the $7,500 per vehicle consumer tax credit offered under the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Electric vehicle supporters have long called for the tax credit to be converted to a rebate, allowing buyers to take advantage of the discount at the point of purchase instead of having to wait as long as a year for their refund checks to arrive in the mail. Attempts to pass the change have been unsuccessful so far—due mostly to a gridlocked political climate—but LaHood said today he's optimistic that the reform will be part of the next tax bill to makes its way out of congress.
LaHood also reportedly said that the incentives could be in place "for as long as it takes to really motivate people to do this." Right now, the credit is limited to 200,000 vehicles per manufacturer, but the secretary's remark may indicate a feeling on the part of the administration that further help will be needed to get the nascent plug-in market off the ground.
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