A few weeks ago we told you the news that the BMW i3 REx range-extended EV wasn’t eligible for the full $2,500 Californian state plug-in incentive, nor would it be eligible for the white HOV-lane access sticker program operated there.
Today, we can confirm that while Californians may miss out on some perks if they choose an i3 REx over the all-electric i3 BEV, buyers in New Jersey will be able to avoid paying sales tax on their new i3, regardless of the model they choose.
That’s according to Tom Moloughney, one of BMW’s most prominent Electronauts who has driven more electric miles in a BMW Mini E and subsequently a BMW ActiveE as part of BMW’s long EV test fleet program than anyone else we know.
Moloughney, himself a resident of New Jersey, posted the confirmation yesterday on the BMW i3 Facebook page.
“This just in: New Jersey buyers will not have to pay sales tax on the i3 REx,” he wrote. “The i3 REx will get the zero emission tax exemption just like the BEV i3 does.”
That’s because New Jersey, like several other states in the union, follows the same vehicle classifications set out by the Californian Air Resources Board (CARB) when deciding what perks and incentives to offer green car buyers. Under CARB’s regulations, the i3 REx is classified as a BEVx, a new classification of vehicle outlined to cater to vehicles which are primarily electric, but do have an on-board range-extending engine.
Unlike the Chevrolet Volt, which can operate happily under gasoline only mode for extended periods of time, the i3 REx’s engine was designed and built primarily to offer backup power to the car’s substantial battery pack.
Essentially, while it’s technically possible of course for i3 REx to be driven for extended periods on gasoline power and an almost-empty battery just like any other dual-fuel plug-in, most of the people we speak to — including BMW insiders — say that’s not what the range extending engine of the i3 REx is for. That’s a very different take to automakers like Toyota and Chevrolet, who emphasise their car’s gasoline powertrain abilities.
Other states in the U.S. also use CARB classifications to help them figure out appropriate vehicle incentives and tax breaks, including the state of Washington, which is already examining what incentives the i3 REx will be eligible for there.
Currently, Washington offers a 100% sales tax exemption for pure EVs, but plug-in hybrids do have to pay sales tax. If approved, the i3 REx would be the first plug-in sold in Washington which didn’t attract some form of sales tax.
With the details of which states are and are not going to offer i3 and i3 REx customers incentives growing by the day, you can expect more and more states to be added to the list over the coming weeks and months.
In related news, BMW has said that specific details of its i3 ‘Electronaut Edition’ — a version of the i3 only available to existing BMW ActiveE lessees as a thank you from BMW for helping test its plug-in technology — will be released some time on February 4.
That’s almost two weeks after BMW officially closed its order book to Electronauts wishing to reserve the special edition, but BMW says that it thinks Electronauts won’t be disappointed by what it has in store for them.
Speculation as to what the special edition will contain remains high, but we suspect it will feature a special interior and paint finish only available to existing ActiveE drivers. It’s unlikely however, to include the two-piece sunroof/moonroof offered on European i3s, as reports say BMW won’t be offering any sunroof option for U.S. customers.
Also to be finalised is financing and lease options, which Moloughney says BMW has promised very soon.
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