One month from today is Tax Day, April 15.
Let us repeat that: Your Federal income taxes (and your state and local taxes too, if you live in places with their own income taxes) must be filed 31 days from today.
So consider this our friendly reminder to start getting your paperwork in order if you plan to take advantage of any of the Federal tax incentives for buying plug-in electric cars (or other alternative-fuel vehicles), or installing charging stations, during 2012.
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About 53,000 plug-in electric cars were sold last year, each qualifying for at least some credit.
The credit ranges from $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the size of the car's battery pack. Below is a list of many cars that qualified for 2012 credits:
- Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid: $2,500
- Ford C-Max Energi: $3,750
- Chevrolet Volt: $7,500
- Fisker Karma: $7,500
- Ford Focus Electric: $7,500
- Mitsubishi i-MiEV: $7,500
- Nissan Leaf: $7,500
- Tesla Model S or Roadster: $7,500
- Toyota RAV4 EV: $7,500
Note these credits can only be claimed by the car's first owner. If you leased your electric car, in general you cannot claim the credit, because the leasing company claims it and uses the money to lower the lease payment.
There are also credits for purchase of larger, commercial plug-in trucks that range higher than $7,500.
2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model
Among them are
- A Federal tax credit of 10 percent of the purchase price, up to a maximum of $2,500, for the purchase of a two- or three-wheeled electric vehicle (Form 8834)
- Restoration of a tax credit up to $1,000 for installing an electric-car changing station in a private home (Form 8911)
- Restoration of the 30-percent tax credit, capped at $30,000, for purchase and installation of an electric-car charging station by businesses
(The Federal tax form numbers given include not only the forms themselves to fill out, but also instructions on how to complete them.)
In addition to Federal tax benefits, there are also numerous state, regional, local, and corporate incentives as well--far too many to cover here.
We recommend that you check with the list of incentives maintained by advocacy group Plug-In America, which is available online.
Remember, always check with a tax advisor if you're not 100 percent clear that you qualify for one or more of these credits.
Happy tax-day countdown, everyone.
RECOMMENDED: Income taxes: Five changes for 2012
Buick is fighting hard to overcome its image problem. Once considered a domestic luxury brand for those not quite affluent enough to purchase a Cadillac, in recent decades the Buick name has become synonymous with a mainstream product line and an aging demographic.
Five years ago, the average age of its customers was 64, and few were looking to lease cars. Thanks to an innovative program called “Experience Buick,” the automaker’s lease rates are up from 14-percent in early 2012 to 36-percent at the end of last month, while the average age of its customers has fallen to 57 years old.
As The Detroit News explains, Experience Buick has many features designed to lure in buyers from other brands. At just 24 months, the lease doesn’t require a long-term commitment to the brand, encouraging shoppers to sample Buick’s wares on a shortened time frame. ( Continue… )
Toyota Motor Corp is recalling 310,000 of its FJ Cruiser sports utility vehicles worldwide because the seatbelt anchor could become detached through wear, the company said on Friday.
Two-thirds of the vehicles to be recalled are in the United States. The affected FJ Cruisers are from model years 2007 to 2013, Toyota said.
No accidents or injuries have been reported due to the problem, Toyota said.
"The seatbelt retractors for the driver and front passenger seat belts are mounted on the rear doors of the vehicles," Toyota said in a press statement. "Due to insufficient strength of the rear door panel, cracks may develop over an extended period of time if the rear door is repeatedly and forcefully closed." ( Continue… )
With electric cars taking up 3 percent of the market for new car sales in a country of only five million people, Norway is one of the most electric car-friendly countries on the planet.
Geographically small enough to minimize range concerns and with huge financial incentives for going electric, that perhaps isn't surprising.
But how much is Norway's pro-electric car stance actually costing the country--and can any of the country's techniques really be used elsewhere?
Probably not, concludes Reuters. That's not to say that the market for electric cars won't grow elsewhere, but it might have to do so more organically than the heavily incentivized methods used by Norway. ( Continue… )
Honda is recalling nearly 250,000 vehicles worldwide for brakes that can suddenly kick in even when the driver isn't braking.
No crashes have been reported related to the defect.
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Some drivers complained about the problem, including 17 in Japan and one in the U.S.
The problem is caused by improper electronics and wiring in the vehicle-stability-assist system.
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Now that Tesla appears to be delivering hundreds of its Model S electric sport sedan each week, public attention inevitably turns to its future.
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They may want a fully electric crossover in which to carry little Jennifer to soccer practice and little Jason to music lessons, but they're going to have to wait a little longer. ( Continue… )
No automaker in the world has done as good a job of both innovating and marketing safety features as Volvo. The brand originally known for building safe and reliable cars has branched out to target roadside animals and pedestrians in its safety net, and now that list includes bicyclists, too.
An offshoot of Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection system, first launched in 2010, the new Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection system includes full auto brake capabilities. Advancements in software, including faster vision processing, now allow the system to cover what Volvo is describing as “certain” cyclist situations.
Since Volvo’s detection system is forward-looking, it can react to cyclists moving in the same direction as the car, assuming the differential in speed is not substantial. When it senses that a collision is imminent, the system delivers a warning to the driver and automatically brakes to avoid or minimize an accident.
In Europe, roughly 50-percent of cyclist fatalities are caused by impacts with motor vehicles. Volvo’s system, which relies on data from both a radar unit and a camera, allows for accurate object recognition at the farthest possible distances, potentially enabling a significant reduction in collisions between automobile and bicyclists.
Ultimately, Volvo’s goal is to make cars crash-proof, which is a mission shared by virtually every automaker working on autonomous technology. Though it may be farther off than Volvo’s target date of 2020, every advancement in safety gets the automaker one step closer to its target.
If you're shopping for a small, economical car and care about safety, we have a new winner: the 2013 Honda Civic.
The 2013 Honda Civic (both in Coupe and Sedan form) has become the first compact car to earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) designation—the newest, top-tier designation from the insurance-industry funded group.
That means that the Civic now gets top 'good' ratings from the IIHS in frontal and side impact tests, the rear seat-based impact test, and the roof-strength test—as well as the latest small overlap frontal impact test.
First introduced for consumers this past summer, the small overlap test measures forces (on a crash-test dummy) and cabin intrusion when the corner of the vehicle (25 percent of the front end) impacts a rigid barrier at 40 mph. In the real world, it simulates one of the most deadly or injurious accidents—when the corner of the vehicle impacts either another car or a utility pole.
The 2013 Civic Sedan also maintains a top five-star overall score from the federal government. ( Continue… )
Movies, books, and television shows can boost a brand to new heights. Think Risky Business and Ray Bans, or E.T. and Reese's Pieces.
More recent examples of great product placement include The Italian Job, which helped relaunch the MINI brand in the U.S. Or Transformers 2, which wasn't well-received by the critics, but still managed to spark sales of the Chevrolet Camaro. And as some of you may know, the hugely popular Fifty Shades of Grey has a very soft spot for Audi, which hasn't gone unnoticed by the erotic trilogy's mostly female readership.
In Iron Man 3, inventor/superhero Tony Stark drives another fashion-forward Audi. This one may look similar to the Audi R8 hardtop he drove in the original Iron Man, but in fact, it's the R8's all-electric e-tron variant -- which is, sadly, still just a prototype. ( Continue… )
Tesla, it seems, can’t catch a break in the media in 2013. First, The New York Timespublished a less-than-stellar review of the Model S, criticizing the car’s range in cold weather.
Now comes word from Bloomberg that a British appeals court has dismissed Tesla’s second attempt at a libel suit against the BBC, the network behind Top Gear. The dismissal should put an end to the courtroom sparring of Tesla and Top Gear.
In 2008, Top Gear ran a piece that was highly critical of the Tesla Roadster’s range, depicting it as just 55 miles under spirited driving, not the 200 miles claimed by Tesla. Tesla’s original lawsuit against the BBC and Top Gear, filed in March of 2011, alleged libel and malicious falsehood. ( Continue… )