Electric cars charging

Electric cars are plugged into a charging station.

State lawmakers are considering a five-year tax credit for Ohio residents who purchase or lease a plug-in an electric vehicle (EV), a move proponents say will jump-start production in the state.

Senate Bill 257 creates a $500 sales tax credit for the purchase of an EV for personal use and a $1,000 sales tax credit per vehicle for up to 10 EVs purchased for commercial use. The measure, sponsored by state Sens. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, and Michael Rulli, R-Salem, would also establish a $1,500 tax credit for the construction of either commercial or personal EV charging stations.

“Considering the rapid advances in vehicle electrification and battery technology over the past several years, it is becoming ever clearer that the future of automobiles is all-electric,” O’Brien told members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “Well-established companies are spending considerable resources in the development and creation of new EVs and innovative startups in our own state … such as Lordstown Motors are investing millions in this new technology.”

Lordstown Motors is planning to use a $200 million U.S. Department of Energy loan to update a former General Motors plant in Northeast Ohio. The company plans to hire as many as 400 workers by the end of this year and start production of electric-powered pickup trucks.

Separately, General Motors chose a 160-acre site near Lordstown for a new battery cell assembly plant. The company could receive performance-based tax subsidies from JobsOhio, which receives funding from liquor sales revenue.

SB 257 “is not intended to last forever, but only kick-start Ohio’s emergence in the world of EVs, and the (incentives) will sunset after five years,” Rulli said.

“While this bill is just one step in the journey toward increasing Ohio’s profile in the world of EVs, we feel it is an important one,” Rulli added. “Helping individuals and fleet owners in our state to convert to EVs signals that Ohio is serious about an all-electric future, something which could (be) instrumental in attracting more new EV businesses in our state.”

State Sen. Louis Blessing III, R-Colerain Township, seemed to question the need for tax incentives.

“It seems like the market is working,” Blessing said, noting news about Tesla’s stock. “We’re moving more toward electric vehicles, really, on our own.”

O’Brien argued the incentives are essential for the Buckeye State to remain competitive.

“If you look at what other states have done and the incentives that they have created, Ohio is lagging behind many other states,” O’Brien said. “… Other states are capitalizing on this, and what happens is, then the development occurs in those states. And, Ohio, by not incentivizing, we lag behind that.”