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Now here's something that will make fiscal conservatives feel warm and fuzzy.

U.S. buyers of new electric-drive vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf battery-electric and Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug in were eligible for more than $150 million in federal and state incentives in 2011, or more than $8,000 for every one of the approximately 18,000 electric-drive vehicles purchased or leased last year, Edmunds.com's Inside Line reported.

The federal government accounts for about $135 million of those tax credits, with states and local governments covering the rest, according to the website. Leaf buyers are eligible for about $72 million of those tax breaks.

Not surprisingly, California, which isn't exactly flush with cash, was a big payer with more than 5,000 electric-drive vehicles purchased or leased in the Golden State alone. California offered as much as $5,000 in incentives per vehicle during the first half of 2011, and $2,500 for the second half of the year.

InsideLine points out that, while $150 million is a substantial sum, it pales in comparison to the more than $10 billion in low-interest loans that the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded to makers of alt-fuel vehicles and their components over the past few years. The publication added that the tax-credit number will likely jump for 2012, with new electric-drive vehicles such as the Ford Focus Electric set to debut and President Obama talking about increasing the EV federal tax break by another $2,500 to $10,000.

And just in time for the election.

*UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that California is extending tax credits for the purchase of electric-drive vehicles and references the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP).

A representative of the CVRP said the program "provides rebates of up to $2,500 for CA purchasers or lessees of light-duty zero-emission vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. These rebates are not tax credits, and were not tax credits in the past. The CVRP is funded through CA vessel and vehicle registration fees, as well as smog abatement fees.
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