Fast — what’s an SUV? The query is of important significance as a result of the brand new federal tax credit score for electrical vehicles units the utmost gross sales value for vehicles and wagons at $55,000 and $80,000 for SUVs.
The Environmental Safety Company (EPA) and the Division of Power (DOE) have created definitions for numerous classes of automobiles for many years as a result of they’re those who decide whether or not a automobile is in compliance with federal exhaust emissions requirements. These requirements differ relying on the scale and weight of the automobile, because of the so-called “footprint rule,” a fiction fobbed off on the federal government by the automakers years in the past that claims bigger, heavier automobiles are allowed to pollute greater than smaller, lighter vehicles.
In case you have ever puzzled why vehicles and vehicles appear to be getting greater and heavier yearly, it’s due to the “footprint rule.” If a producer can’t adjust to the harder emissions laws that apply to environment friendly passenger automobiles just like the Chevy Cruze or Dodge Dart, simply cease making them and give attention to manufacturing Chevy Suburbans or RAM 1500 Massive Horn vehicles as an alternative. Oh, and yet one more factor — these greater automobiles have a lot greater revenue margins, too. Hmmm … may there be a connection?
All people wins — besides the setting, after all. The premise of the principles within the first place — decreasing emissions from the transportation sector — is subverted by the rule-making course of in order that now now we have extra emissions than we’d have if the “footprint” rule was by no means adopted within the first place. Whereas complete emissions are decrease as we speak than they have been a decade in the past, they’d be significantly decrease if the “footprint rule” had by no means been adopted. That’s the magic of letting particular pursuits dominate the rule-making course of.
What Is An SUV?
The Inflation Discount Act directs the Treasury Division to make the principles that can implement its provisions. The Inner Income Service is a part of Treasury. Now, you may suppose the parents at Treasury and the IRS, when confronted with the duty of figuring out which automobiles are SUVs and which aren’t, would name over to their colleagues at DOE and EPA and say, “Hey, you guys have been doing these items for many years. Can we simply undertake the classifications you’ve got labored on for years and make them a part of our new laws? That may save us a variety of time and we’re actually busy over right here, so thanks very a lot.”
Treasury says that’s exactly what they’ve performed and but its proposed guidelines have taken some automakers without warning. A working example is the Cadillac Lyriq. Right here’s a automobile that in the event you confirmed it to 100 individuals with out them understanding something about it, 95% of them would say it’s an SUV. It appears to be like like an SUV. Cadillac markets it as an SUV. It was designed from the bottom as much as be an SUV as a result of, guess what? SUVs are the most popular phase of the brand new automobile market and Cadillac needs to play within the deep finish of the pool. That’s the place the gross sales are and that’s the place the earnings are.
So think about the consternation at Cadillac once they found Treasury and the IRS wish to classify the Lyriq as a passenger automobile, not an SUV! The automobile begins at $62,990. If it’s an SUV, it’s eligible for the total federal tax credit score (at the very least for the subsequent few months). If it’s a passenger automobile, Lyriq consumers will get nothing from Uncle Sugar. Now, Lyriq clients should not destitute. It may be argued that they don’t want any assist shopping for a automobile, electrical or in any other case. However they don’t seem to be prone to move up a possible financial savings of $7,500 in the event that they may also help it.
Suffice it to say, the individuals at Cadillac should not pleased campers proper now. In actual fact, in keeping with Reuters, Basic Motors is bringing all its appreciable lobbying may to bear on the difficulty. “We’re addressing these issues with Treasury and hope that forthcoming steerage on automobile classifications will present the wanted readability to shoppers and sellers, in addition to regulators and producers,” the corporate says. It provides that Treasury ought to use standards and processes just like the Environmental Safety Company and Power Division. “This drives consistency throughout present federal coverage and readability for shoppers.”
For its half, Treasury says it’s going strictly by the guide through the use of gasoline economic system requirements “that are pre-existing — and longstanding — EPA laws that producers are very acquainted with. These requirements provide clear standards for delineating between vehicles and SUVs.”
The Nice SUV Debate
Cadillac just isn’t the one one caught up on this schlamozzle. The Volkswagen ID.4 is assessed as a passenger automobile whether it is outfitted with one electrical motor however as an SUV in twin motor trim. The Tesla Mannequin Y, which has two electrical motors (in US trim), is a passenger automobile in keeping with the federal government if it seats 5 however an SUV if it seats seven. Elon Musk, the grand poohbah at Tesla, tweeted this week that the principles are “tousled.”
Time is of the essence right here. Treasury on December 29, 2022, mentioned it couldn’t end writing the principles and laws wanted to implement the IRA by the tip of the yr however will get them performed someday in March — it hopes. As soon as that job is accomplished, the tax credit score can be cut up into two $3,750 halves. One half requires the supplies used to make the battery for an electrical automobile be sourced from throughout the US or different authorised international locations. The opposite half applies the identical take a look at to battery supplies. Underlying every thing going ahead is the requirement that no tax credit score is accessible until the ultimate meeting of the automobile in query takes place in the US or an in depth buying and selling associate like Canada or Mexico.
However till all the principles are finalized, there can be a quick window of alternative throughout which all electrical vehicles deemed to be assembled within the US can be eligible for the total $7,500 federal tax credit score, supplied, after all, they’re priced lower than $55,000 for a passenger automobile or $80,000 for an SUV. That brings us full circle again to the place we started. What, precisely, is an SUV?
To be truthful, the EPA has helped create a lot of this confusion. In its 2022 Automotive Report, it refers to some automobiles as “SUV vehicles.” It will all get straightened out as armies of Gucci-shod lobbyists work their magic behind the scenes, distant from public oversight.
What we expect right here at CleanTechnica is essentially irrelevant, however over espressos within the writers lounge this morning, everybody thought the Cadillac Lyriq is clearly an SUV. That it’s not was a shock to all of us. There may be an previous expression that claims, “Solely attorneys and painters can flip black to white.” Possibly that adage ought to be amended to incorporate authorities regulators as effectively.
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