U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that as soon as next year, instead of the Internal Revenue Service, the auto dealers may be the ones to award the $7,500 federal incentive checks to hybrid and electric vehicle buyers.
LaHood said that Congress will think about the proposal as part of revisions to U.S. tax and energy policy in 2012. When asked about the proposal of the Obama administration, LaHood said that there have many talks about it.
He said that incentives are effective at convincing people to purchase a battery-powered car. LaHood had been in Smyrna, Tenn., last Tuesday to visit Nissan's $1.6 billion EV battery plant that was being constructed.
Nissan aims to be the largest lithium-ion battery plant in the country. Buyers of the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, or other alternative-power vehicle that qualifies under the U.S. energy policy will get a $7,500 tax refund when they file their federal income tax return.
LaHood said that the Obama Administration believes that consumers will be encouraged to purchase EVs and hybrids when they allow auto retailers to handle the incentive as an instant rebate. He made the comparison to the 2010 federal Cash for Clunkers program that boosted new vehicle sales with dealer rebates that came a few weeks after the purchase.
Nissan's project manager, Jeff Deaton, said that Nissan's new battery plant, which was made possible with a $1.4 billion loan given by the U.S. Department of Energy, will include a 100,000-square-foot humidity-controlled clean room, which would be the largest in North America.