It’s no secret that electric vehicles (EVs) are surging in popularity. With many consumers prioritizing sustainability and the proliferation of all-electric options from many automakers at a variety of price points, drivers nationwide are making the switch.
This is especially true in Georgia, where major car manufacturers are developing dedicated EV plants, and the state government has enacted incentivizing changes to EV-related regulations. Together, these advances signal confidence in the future of driving electric in the Peach State.
Bolstered by both consumer interest in EVs and lucrative tax incentives, several top automakers have announced plans to build new car plants in Georgia – and invest in existing ones – making the state a hub for EV production.
In December 2021, EV manufacturer startup Rivian Automotive Inc. announced plans to build a new $5 billion plant east of Atlanta dedicated to producing its more affordable R2 vehicles. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, with vehicles produced by 2026.
Since Rivian’s announcement, several auto makers have followed suit with their own EV development plans.
In May of 2022, Georgia landed another EV plant, this time from South Korea-based automaker Hyundai Motor Group. It plans to invest more than $7.5 billion in a state-owned facility in Ellabell, near Savannah, with plans to produce 300,000 EVs annually by 2025. This spring, Hyundai subsidiary Kia announced plans to assemble its latest electric offering, the 2024 EV9 SUV, at its plant in West Point Georgia. The company also shared it would invest $200 million in the plant to prepare for production. And, in September, Korean car seat parts manufacturer and Hyundai supplier DAS Corp. announced a $35 million plant near Statesboro Georgia.
As EV manufacturers and their suppliers continue to choose Georgia for their production centers, state legislators have turned their attention to regulations and tax rules impacting EV consumers and producers.
One key step was passing Senate Bill 146, which increases public oversight of EV charging stations, allowing Georgia’s Department of Agriculture to regulate them similarly to gasoline pumps. Among other changes, the bill establishes a standard tax per kilowatt hour of EV charging and allows businesses to sell electricity by kilowatt hours consumed rather than time spent charging.
Supporters hope this will encourage more businesses to provide EV chargers and offer fair fueling prices to drivers, further incentivizing EV adoption.
The real measure of EV success in Georgia is consumer support; plants can pump out cars and the government can offer incentives, but drivers must buy in. For years, interested consumers were held back by prohibitive costs and a lack of accurate information about EV ownership, but now, the tides have turned: as of the end of 2022, 70,000 EVs were registered in Georgia.
Greater accessibility has played a major role in encouraging EV adoption. Even a few years ago, there were far fewer all-electric options from budget-friendly automakers or used car dealerships, making it difficult for customers to see past a high sticker price to benefits down the road. Now that the EV boom has really taken off, though, more manufacturers have developed new all-electric offerings at competitive prices.
Perhaps most importantly, the used EV market has taken off, allowing customers to reap the benefits of EV ownership for a far lower initial cost. Case in point: Carvana, the largest online used vehicle retailer in the U.S., observed total EV unit sales increased by 786% from 2017 to 2022, accompanied by a 150% increase in the variety of EVs offered. With used options widely available, it is far easier for the average consumer to make the switch.
Georgians are also encouraged by several financial incentives. For businesses, the state offers an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Tax Credit to cover 10% of the cost of the EVSE up to $2,500. Residential consumers can take advantage of Georgia Power’s rebate, up to $250, or its Plug-In Electric Vehicle Charging Rate Incentive, which offers lower prices to EV owners charging their vehicles overnight.
As EV’s popularity continues to grow, private and public investment will only increase. Already the best vehicle choice to reduce one's carbon footprint, all-electric models are quickly becoming clear frontrunners in other ways too, offering less frequent maintenance, less expensive fueling and more.
Thanks to rich investment and greater access, for many Georgians, it’s no longer a question of if they should buy an EV – it’s a matter of when.