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How’s This For An Electric Vehicle Incentive: Free Fuel

Electrify America fast-charge pump and VW ID.4
Electrify America
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VW ID.4 buyers will receive free fuel for three years at Electrify America stations as part of a promotion announced Monday.

Being an early adopter has its perks.

Most electric and plug-in hybrid drivers know electricity is usually cheaper than gas.  Many of them are often also incentivized through tax breaks or other means, even to the point of getting free fuel.

Monday, Electrify America and Volkswagen announced what could end up being one of the largest free fuel promotions in the country.

Buyers of VW’s upcoming ID.4 electric SUV will receive three years of unlimited charging sessions at Electrify America’s more than 470 charging stations and over 2,000 DC fast chargers, including a newly completed cross-country route between Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.

In Jacksonville, Electrify America has a station at The Avenues mall.

The ID.4 will be Volkswagen’s first high-volume EV to be sold in the U.S. when it launches late this year. VW plans to sell a half-million of them annually.

Incentives have been a popular way to nudge drivers to consider zero- or low-emission vehicles. The federal government offers a tax credit that’s worth up to $7,500 – depending on the vehicle – to EV buyers. A list of vehicles that qualify is at fueleconomy.com.

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle debuted with two years of free charging at Harley-Davidson dealerships with ChargePoint stations and at Electrify America stations.

Other free-charging deals have popped up for the Audi E-Tron and Porsche Taycan. Tesla is famous for starting the trend, promising Model S owners free charging for life at its Supercharging stations when it first debuted the four-door sedan.

The latest free fuel deal isn’t just for drivers looking at high-end vehicles costing well-north of $60,000. Car and Driver is estimating the ID.4 will have a base price around $35,000.  The free fuel promotion is part of the marketing hype leading up to the fully electric SUV’s full reveal on Sept. 23. 

But even without special promotions, in many cities, including Jacksonville, some area charging stations are free for drivers to use, regardless of the car.

For example, charging is free for employees and visitors to the Cummer Museum in Jacksonville and at some of the city-owned Downtown St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach ChargePoint stations and at a variety of area hotels.

To put the average cost of gasoline versus electricity into perspective, the U.S. Department of Energy offers a handy tool that allows drivers to directly compare fuel costs among models.

Looking at the Mini Cooper two-door hardtop, which is available as both an EV or 4-cylinder turbo, the government estimates that the annual fuel cost will be $600 for the EV, versus $1,400 for the gasoline version.

MiniEV.JPG
Credit U.S. Department of Energy
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EV drivers can find free charging – and charging locations in general – with the free PlugShare app.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.