GM hits 200,000 U.S. electric vehicles sold in 2018

The credit for GM EVs falls to $3,750 in April

General Motors Co reached 200,000 cumulative U.S. electric vehicles sold late last year, triggering a phase-out of a $7,500 federal tax credit over the next 15 months, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

The largest U.S. automaker hit the figure in the fourth quarter of 2018, which means the credit will fall to $3,750 in April, and then drop to $1,875 in October for six months. The credit will completely disappear in April 2020.

GM, which said previously it expected to reach the 200,000 sales figure before the end of 2018, declined to comment ahead of the release of its sales results on Thursday.

Tesla was the first automaker to reach 200,000 U.S. EV sales, triggering its own tax credit countdown in July of 2018. As of January 1, 2019, Tesla buyers can take advantage of $3,750 in tax credits for the first six months of the year, after which it is halved again before disappearing at year's end. Tesla announced it is lowering the prices of its vehicles as a result.

Nissan will likely be the third automaker to hit the 200,000 unit mark, but it's not clear when that will happen. The company has sold somewhere around 130,000 Leaf EVs so far. Ford is also more than halfway to triggering the countdown on federal tax credits, with about 112,000 EVs sold.

The federal EV tax credit has been a matter of debate in recent months, with lawmakers like Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming trying to shut the program down. Meanwhile, Senator Dean Heller of Nevada proposed removing the cap on the number of tax credits allowed per automaker.

In March, GM Chief Executive Mary Barra called on Congress to expand the consumer tax credit for electric vehicles as the company boosted production of the Bolt EV in response to consumer demand. She repeated the request last month during a visit to Capitol Hill.

GM said in November it was doubling resources allocated to developing electric and self-driving vehicles as part of a significant restructuring that includes ending production at five North American plants. GM also announced it would halt production of the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt by March.

In November, a congressional report said 57,066 taxpayers claimed $375 million in EV tax credits in 2016. Congress estimates the cost of the EV tax credit at $7.5 billion between the 2018 and 2022 fiscal years.

Reporting by Reuters and John Beltz Snyder.

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