EVs: The Power of Change

Welcome to our e-Newsletter, where we keep you updated on all the latest electric vehicle (EV) news, trends and breakthroughs while celebrating you – our EV partners and drivers! In this issue, we highlight some tips on how to maximize your tax refund if you bought an EV during 2022, help you find overnight accommodations around Michigan with EV charging, meet the driver of a Rivian R1T pickup truck that doubles as a power tailgater during MSU games and provide some guidance on how (and why) to check on your EV’s 12V battery.

EV Tax Credits and the IRA

Hotel and Campground Charging

Sidebar: EV 12V Batteries

Driver Profile: Anna Munie

 EV Tax Credits and the IRA

The deadline for submitting your 2022 tax return is approaching fast, so if you bought a new electric vehicle (EV) last year you don’t want to miss out on potential tax credits.

Before Aug. 17, 2022, finding out tax credit eligibility was pretty simple. But with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), it’s a bit more complicated.

As always, consult your tax preparation professional before making any decisions or filing, but we have some tips to steer you in the right direction.

Vehicle Purchases Before August 17, 2022

If you purchased a new qualifying plug-in electric vehicle, either a battery electric (BEV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with at least a 4 kilowatt-hours (kWh) capacity battery, your purchase may be eligible for a tax credit of $2,500 to $7,500 depending on the make and model. The previous tax law stipulated that the credit was phased out for each manufacturer when 200,000 vehicles had been sold. For example, because both Chevrolet and Tesla had sold the threshold number of vehicles, purchasers of either of those manufacturers are ineligible. However, purchasers of Ford, Chrysler/Jeep, Volkswagen, Kia, and many other brands are still eligible.

This tax credit is also available for future EV owners with a written binding contract to purchase a new qualifying electric vehicle before Aug. 16, 2022, but do not take possession of the vehicle until on or after Aug. 16, 2022.

To find out if your car purchase qualifies, visit this IRS site IRC 30D New Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit to find your vehicle.

Vehicle Purchases Between August 17 and December 31, 2022

Here’s where it gets trickier. Qualifying EVs purchased and delivered between Aug. 17, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2022, are eligible for the tax incentive as described above but are limited to vehicles with final assembly in North America. Manufacturer sales caps on vehicles apply. The US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center has a database of Electric Vehicles with Final Assembly in North America. There is also a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) decoder that can be used to identify a vehicle’s build plant and country of manufacture.

Vehicles Placed in Service After December 31, 2022

Obviously 2023 purchases will not affect 2022 tax year credits, but if you have purchased or are considering purchase of an EV in 2023, you should know what to expect. Electric vehicle news resource electrek has put out a great summary of the IRA stipulations. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Federal tax credit for EVs will remain at $7,500
  • Tax credit cap for automakers after they hit 200,000 EVs sold is eliminated, making GM, Tesla and Toyota once again eligible
  • The language in the bill indicates the tax credit could be implemented at the point of sale instead of on taxes at the end of the fiscal year.
    • That means you can get your credit up front at the dealer, but these terms may not kick in until 2024
    • To get the full credit, the EV must be assembled in North America and…
    • Most battery components need to come from North America and…
    • A certain percentage of “critical minerals” must come from North America or countries with free trade agreements with the US
  • New federal tax credit of $4,000 for used EVs priced below $25k – this could be a big deal. Watch this space!
  • The federal EV tax credit will be available to individuals reporting adjusted gross incomes of $150,000 or less, or $300,000 for joint filers.
  • The new credit will also continue to apply to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) if they meet the same requirements outlined above and are equipped with a battery over 7 kWh.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to digest here. The authority on tax advice will always be the IRS, so be sure to consult your tax preparer before making purchase decisions. You can also read all the details on the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center site regarding EV tax credits.

Hotel and Campground Charging

When building out the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, much emphasis has been placed on DC Fast Chargers that will charge an EV from 20-80% in 2040 minutes (depending on the vehicle and the charger). However, Level 2 charging at overnight accommodations works just like charging overnight at home. This can help you start your day with a full battery and one less charging stop along the way.

Hotels and Bed & Breakfasts

So how do you go about finding hotels or a bed & breakfast (B&B) along your route? While this can be an iterative process, it’s often worth the effort because of the promise of a full battery and warmed up car in the morning.

  • Find an area where you want to stay. If just passing through, consider staying outside of metro areas since the prices tend to be lower. Use a mapping tool like Google Maps to find hotels or even a good B&B in the area. Some hotel search services even include EV chargers in their search filters.
  • Use PlugShare to find hotels in the area that have Level 2 chargers, making sure to look at the rating and recent comments.
  • If there are no hotels with Level 2 chargers in your area, look for other Level 2 chargers or DC Fast Chargers at nearby businesses. If it’s nearby but too far to walk, perhaps drop a folding bike or scooter into the trunk to get there. But be sure to review PlugShare check-ins and pictures of the site. Some locations may close gates or shut off power to a charger after business hours.
  • If struggling to find an appropriate site, I also check the apps or web pages from charging networks like ChargePoint, Electrify America, Blink, EVGo, SemaConnect or whatever is prevalent in the area. Sometimes EVSEs are added and nobody has discovered them and added them on PlugShare.
  • As a backup plan, look for Superchargers or DC Fast Chargers nearby in case the hotel Level 2 charger is broken, being used, or blocked.
  • If all else fails, look for an external 120V outlet where your car’s charging cord won’t create a trip hazard, ask for permission from the hotel, then at least get 1.5 KW or about 30 miles of range overnight

Maximize Your Chance for Success

Once you’re on the road, consider calling ahead to the hotel or B&B to see if they can block the parking space associated with the EV charger with a traffic cone so that it won’t get ICEd (blocked by an ICE vehicle) before you get there.

If the charger is blocked by another vehicle not plugged in, one way to get more reach to the charger is to carry a J1772 extension cord. A 20+ foot cord specially designed for this purpose may be enough to reach an adjacent parking spot. Some overnight accommodations have chargers with both J1772 plugs and Tesla plugs. If the Tesla chargers are not being used and your car uses a J1772 charging port, it might be useful to have a Tesla to J1772 adapter. We wrote about these in more detail in the last EV eNewsletter, but Inside EVs has a great overview article and video of how these are used and what might fit your needs. Note that these do not work on Tesla Superchargers.

Charging at Campgrounds

Full-sized RVs with power-hungry devices like air conditioners and clothing dryers use a lot of power. Therefore, many RV parks are equipped with 240V 50A RV plugs. As it turns out, that standard plug, also called a NEMA 14-50 is perfect for EV charging. If your car has a high-power charging cable, chances are the plug is a NEMA 14-50 and can use the 50A RV plug found in most modern campgrounds.

Find a campground that has electricity at the campsite. Make sure you reserve a campsite with 50A power plugs. The 30A TT-30 receptacles are 120V only and not compatible with NEMA 14-50 plugs and would require a different adapter. Some campgrounds charge an extra fee for EV charging, so check with the management to see if that’s required.

To use the 50A RV plug, turn off the 50A breaker, plug in your NEMA 14-50 capable charging cable, turn on the breaker and look for power lights on the charging cable box to ensure proper grounding and function. Then just plug the J1772 plug into your vehicle, and it should start charging.

EV Etiquette Goes a Long Way

Assuming you’ve successfully found an overnight parking spot and plugged in, consider leaving a note on your car or an EV hang tag to let other EV drivers know when you’ll be done charging. If you don’t need all night to charge your vehicle, perhaps you can move your vehicle and offer the plug to another driver. Sometimes a quick phone call or text message can make all the difference, so consider leaving your cell phone number as a way for other EV drivers to reach you. If you’re a Consumers Energy customer and would like a complimentary EV etiquette hang tag, email us at PowerMIDrive@cmsenergy.com to get one mailed to you.

If another driver is already plugged into the only charger, try leaving a note on their car to please plug you in and park near the charger with your charge port open to signal your need to charge.

Final Thoughts

In addition to DC Fast Chargers for your EV travels, the Consumers Energy PowerMIDrive program continues to help even more hotels and B&Bs add chargers over the next few years to energize your EV travels. Find out where at ConsumersEnergy.com/ev.

Sidebar: EV 12V Batteries

Michiganders endure cold winters, and our vehicles need to withstand the snow and
colder temperatures as well. Since batteries are electrochemical devices that slow down when temperatures drop, our range starts decreasing slightly. But what about the 12V battery?

That’s right, don’t forget your EV still has a 12V “starter” battery. Whether you can see it under the hood, it’s buried under the rear cargo area (Chevy Volt), or it’s somewhere else entirely (Tesla), your car has one.

Why do you care?

The 12V battery may not turn over an internal combustion engine when starting the car, but it’s essential to fire up all the auxiliary systems on your EV that allow the car to run. If your 12V battery is flat, your car won’t start even if the main traction battery has a 100% charge. While some cars (e.g. Teslas) give you a warning that the 12V battery needs to be replaced, the first symptoms of a failing battery may be that some auxiliary systems and sensors start getting low voltage and thus giving
strange and spurious readings.

So if you haven’t changed the 12V battery in your EV in several years, measure the
voltage when the car isn’t running and being charged by the DC-to-DC converter
or get the battery health checked at an auto parts store or dealer. The DC-to-DC converter takes on the function of the alternator in an ICE vehicle by stepping down energy from the 400 or 800V traction battery to the 12V accessory battery.

You can “jump start” an EV with an external 12V power source, so carrying jumper cables can help you in a pinch. However, you don’t want to depend on that, so change your 12V battery if its condition is questionable. Your future winter driver self will thank you.

Driver Profile: Anna Munie

EV Model: 2022 Rivian R1T

Biggest EV Surprise: Being a celebrity with the first EV pickup truck.

Anna Munie is a pickup truck fan. Her 2008 Ford F-150 earned its keep
with over 230,000 miles on the odometer. But when Anna had the
chance to drive a Tesla for a weekend in 2015, she was immediately
hooked on the power and responsiveness of an EV.

When startup Rivian announced their R1T electric pickup truck, Anna
researched the company and decided this was the truck she wanted.
She placed a reservation as soon as the books opened and in 2022,
the company delivered.

And wow! Did they deliver! In addition to being a versatile vehicle
that handles everything from commuting, hauling, towing and get
this – using the truck’s onboard “vehicle to load” 120V outlet, making
waffles – the R1T is an MSU tailgating superhero! Since Anna and her
husband are huge Michigan State University fans, of course the color
had to be Spartan green.

“I can’t tell you how much I love this truck – the performance and
responsiveness are AMAZING, it drives like a sports car but has all the
off road capabilities and storage/towing ability of a full size pickup.
The truck can do 0-60 in about 3 seconds and then turn around and
go into off-road mode and basically climb the side of a mountain. I
absolutely love driving and owning it.”

“Not at all. We have only done a few overnight trips so far and plan for
some multiple night, longer overnight trips in 2023.” For daily driving,
Anna mostly charges at home and sets the maximum battery level
to 70% to help protect the battery. In preparation for road trips, the
truck gets a full 100% charge.

“When we have driven longer distances, I have been able to find
hotels with charging stations or free charging options in the location
where we will end up that I can use to top off the charge while doing
other things.”

“We have found a lot of good charging options in East Lansing, where we live. And because I work for a utility, I also have charging options at work. While overall I still use our home charger most frequently, I
feel like I can always find a charging option if I am out and about.”

“Because we charge during off peak hours, we really haven’t seen a significant increase in our electric bill. The amount we spend charging using electric, vs. what we would have spent in gas for the same
distance isn’t even a comparison. We have really seen a reduction in operating costs by going electric instead of gas.”

Anna bought the Rivian charger with the truck, so she was not in need of the PowerMIDrive home charger rebate. Instead, she utilized the Bring Your Own Charger (BYOC) program that pays back $10 per month for 12 months in addition to cheaper off-peak rates just for charging overnight.

“It was such an easy process to sign up. Working with one of the EV Specialists I was signed up for the off-peak charging rate in less than 10 minutes, and it took about 30 seconds to program the truck to
charge at the overnight rates. I already have my first rebate back from Consumers Energy for charging off peak and I met the requirements 100% of the time without even having to think about it.”

“Because my first EV is a brand-new company (Rivian) who makes a very distinctive looking truck, I get a lot of questions and comments, but I am still surprised at the sheer NUMBER of people who comment.
I have been waved down at stoplights by the car next to me, waved down by people on street corners, stopped at grocery stores and pretty much all other locations I go with people asking questions about what the truck is and what it does. They have all been extremely impressed at the fact that it is all electric and how many storage options and features it has.”

“I normally don’t consider myself a true early adopter, but I was with my first EV, and I haven’t regretted a single second. Once you drive an EV you won’t forget about it, they are very cool vehicles and it’s been
such a great experience being an EV owner.”

So, if you smell waffles cooking during tailgating season at Spartan Stadium and don’t hear a noisy generator running, look for Anna’s family and a Spartan green Rivian R1T rocking the tailgate scene!