Electric vehicles are only getting more common on roads nationwide, but the same can't be said for off-road trails. There are a few clear reasons for that, several of which keep people from buying them and manufacturers from building them. However, a newly proposed bill aims to boost the supply and demand of battery-powered ATVs and UTVs by offering a 10 percent tax credit on qualified rigs.
The Michael F. Donoughe Tax Credit for Off Road Electric Vehicles Act was introduced to the House of Representatives earlier in December by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN). It's named after Mike Donoughe, who served as Polaris' Chief Technical Officer before passing away in the summer of 2022. He led the manufacturer's electrification efforts, which include the Ranger XP Kinetic—an electric side-by-side that makes 110 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque while netting up to 80 miles of range.
Polaris is in support of this bill, as you can imagine. In its current form, it requires plug-in vehicles to sport more than six kilowatt-hours of battery capacity and have a dry weight of fewer than 3,500 pounds. They also need to have one or more seats and three or more wheels—sorry, dirtbike riders. So long as they meet those prereqs, are meant for off-road use, and can achieve 40 miles per hour, they'd be eligible for up to $2,500 off the purchase price.
Rep. Phillips argues in favor of the bill, citing its potential to encourage new buyers of more efficient off-road equipment. Manufacturers who have already begun developing EVs that could benefit from the tax credit, like Polaris, also point out that battery power means fewer moving parts and reduced maintenance to go along with near-silent operation. These are the most obvious potential benefits of electric off-roaders, though many are still concerned about remote charging options and electric range.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, and it's unclear when it'll be voted on. If passed, it could boost interest in plug-in electric ATVs and UTVs by lowering costs, which is also a main concern for customers who have only owned gas vehicles up to this point. The financial commitment wouldn't be nearly as significant for the federal government as its newly revised tax credit for on-road EVs, but that's not a guarantee it'll be passed.
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