Englebright and Skelos Announce Legislation Creating Incentives to Purchase Environmentally-Friendly Vehicles

Leading New York State environmental organizations endorse legislation
April 18, 2007

New York Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Setauket) and State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) were joined by representatives from the state’s leading environmental advocacy organizations to announce new legislation providing tax incentives for the purchase of hybrid and high mile-per-gallon vehicles.

“This legislation is an important first step toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil and protecting our environment,” said Senator Skelos. “By making hybrid vehicles more cost-effective and promoting the use of other gas conscious cars, we will begin dramatically reducing our gasoline consumption, easing the burden that higher fuel costs impose on household budgets, reducing air pollution and addressing global climate change.”

“As automobiles are among the greatest producers of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants, our state should be using its tax policies to promote the purchase of hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles,” said Assemblyman Englebright. “New Yorkers have proven that they want to do their part to curb the effects of climate change and this new incentive can help by easing the upfront costs.”

This legislation would eliminate the assessment of the state sales tax on the purchase of new and used hybrid vehicles and vehicles with a highway fuel economy estimate of 35 miles per gallon or more, as certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, the legislation enables New York City and county governments to eliminate their local sales tax on these vehicles.

Albert E. Caccese, Acting Executive Director of Audubon New York said, “Global warming is among the greatest threats to birds, other wildlife and people ever experienced. We still have the power to affect how serious its consequences will be but we must act now. Citizens can help by expressing their opinion on national, state and local policies and they can make lifestyle changes to reduce their individual carbon footprints. Acquiring a high efficiency or hybrid vehicle is a good, and very affordable, start.”

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said, “This is a practical step which leads us toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, saves the public money and protects our environment. Reducing the cost of hybrid vehicles will help advance the market for them and build public understanding and participation for finding energy solutions.”

Alison Hirsh, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the New York League of Conservation Voters said, “We are proud to be here today to support this important legislation to exempt hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles from the state sales tax. By purchasing hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles, New Yorkers around the state can do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb the effects of climate change. Though these vehicles provide long term savings, many individuals cannot afford the up-front purchasing costs. This legislation will make the purchase of hybrid cars easier and more cost-effective and will go a long way toward making these vehicles the norm, rather than the exception.”

According to industry statistics, 22,799 hybrid vehicles are registered in New York State, with 11,634 registered in 2005. Nationally, the increase in new hybrid registrations slowed to second lowest level since 2000.

As an example of the environmental benefits of hybrid vehicles, the Toyota Camry hybrid uses approximately 29% less gasoline than the non-hybrid version. At 14,000 miles driven per year, the hybrid owner would save roughly $425 in additional fuel costs. As noted by Consumer Reports, however, even the “most cost-effective models require an investment of about five years for the owner to break even.” This legislation will reduce this cost recovery period.

The state tax credit for the purchase of hybrid vehicles expired in 2005. The federal government provided a personal income tax deduction of up to $2,000 for hybrid vehicles purchased in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, the federal tax deduction converted to a tax credit the amount of which depends on the make and model of the vehicle and the date on which it was purchased. This credit phases out as more vehicles are purchased.

On Long Island, drivers of hybrid vehicles are entitled to use the High Occupancy Vehicle lane on the Long Island Expressway.