Government subsidies for electric vehicles aren’t just for Teslas any more. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources is setting aside $10 million in rebates for purchasers of medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks. The new program follows through on last June’s pledge by the Baker administration to expand the rebate program to commercial vehicles.
Starting next week, buyers of private, commercial, and government fleet vehicles will be eligible for rebates ranging from $7,500 for pickup trucks up to $90,000 for tractor-trailer trucks. The value of the rebates will decrease over time, based on expected declines in the prices of the vehicles. Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Patrick Woodcock said that larger rebates will be provided for vehicles that are used in low-income areas where people face greater exposure to air pollution.
The new subsidies build on the state’s MOR-EV program, which has offered rebates to purchasers of electric cars since 2014. The program went dormant in 2019 as funding ran out. But the Baker administration signed off on $54 million in new funds for 2020 and 2021. Woodcock said that the state issued 2,500 electric-car rebates last year, fewer than expected due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Work trucks, delivery vans, and big rigs make up only about 5 percent of all US motor vehicles, but account for one-quarter of all greenhouse gases produced by cars and trucks. Woodcock said this is not only because they’re bigger and consume more fuel, but also because they’re constantly in use. “These vehicles can be workhorses Monday through Friday,” he said, while passenger cars sit idle most of the day.
For now, there are few medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks on the market, but that’s starting to change. Major manufacturers like General Motors, Daimler, Peterbilt, Kenworth, and Volvo are all bringing electric trucks to market in 2021. “There are a lot of large purchasers including the Postal Service and Amazon that are looking at these vehicles,” Woodcock said.
Massachusetts is one of 15 states that formed a pact last year to slash greenhouse gas emissions from trucks. The group aims for 30 percent of new truck and bus sales to be zero-emission by 2030, with all new trucks to be zero-emission by 2050.