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As Virginia EV sales slowly climb, auto dealers still haven’t given up on rebates

An electric vehicle charges at a public station in Henrico County, July 2020.
An electric vehicle charges at a public station in Henrico County, July 2020.(Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury)
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 8:01 AM EDT
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Don Hall has put his money on electric: specifically, the Volkswagen ID.4, which he bought this summer.

The president and CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association sparked surprise this winter when he threw his influential organization’s support behind a law that aims to move Virginia drivers away from the internal combustion engine toward cars powered by electricity.

Initially wary of the proposal to embrace California emissions standards, Hall became one of its most enthusiastic cheerleaders at the 2021 General Assembly. “We shall go forward and sell EVs in the future,” he declared to lawmakers during one hearing.

The Democrat-led legislature this winter pushed through a package of laws intended to do that. A “clean cars” bill pledged to adopt California vehicle emissions standards and electric car sales targets. Another measure established a rebate program to cut down on the high sticker price of the vehicles, although lawmakers left it unfunded amid questions about the tool’s effectiveness.

In Virginia, EV sales are growing. According to numbers from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, electric vehicle registrations grew by 44 percent between June 30, 2020, and June 30 of this year. Hybrid registrations over the same period went up by 12 percent.

Still, they remain a fraction of the state’s more than 6.8 million passenger vehicle and light-duty truck registrations. And Virginia’s increases are far below the more than 200 percent rise in electric vehicle sales that auto services firm Cox Automotive, owner of Kelley Blue Book, found occurred nationwide between the second quarters of 2020 and 2021.

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