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Here's an idea: instead of getting buyers interested in buying EVs, why not get the sellers keenly interested in selling them. That's the tact that the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is taking with a new promotion called the "Connecticut Revolutionary Dealer Award." It's so simple, it's a wonder no one has proposed it before.

The DEEP, along with the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA), is going to hand out two awards, one for the dealer who sells (or leases) the most plug-in vehicles and one for the dealer who sells/leases the most on a percentage-basis of the total sales. The two competitions started February 1 and run through the end of July, 2014.

It is interesting to see a state turn the typical EV incentive picture around.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk would certainly agree with the reasons for the campaign. Musk has said it's difficult for traditional dealers to sell EVs since they undermine traditional ICE vehicles (Tesla does not yet have any stores in Connecticut, but one is "coming soon" in Milford). The forces behind the Connecticut program know that changing dealer behavior is key. "Dealers are ... the first and most critical 'hands-on' point of contact with prospective new car purchasers, some of whom may not have heard about the newest and most exciting transportation technologies," CARA president Jim Fleming said in a prepared statement. Unlike some states, where the dealers are actively working against EV proponents like Tesla, it is interesting to see a state turn the typical EV incentive picture around.

In the announcement, Connecticut prides itself on the work it has done promoting EVs. The state set up an Electric Vehicles Infrastructure Council many years ago and it has now given over $175,000 to almost 50 towns, businesses, and schools to help them build 75 EV charging stations in the state, for example, and it has teamed up with seven other states to get 3.3 million EVs (including battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen cars) into service by 2025. What better way to do that than give the sellers a reason to move metal? Now that we know the competition is afoot, does anyone want to guess what numbers the winning dealerships will turn in?
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DEEP and Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association Announce Dealer Awards Program to Promote the Sales of Electric Vehicles

Award will recognize two Connecticut auto retailers for most sales or leases of EVs

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA) today announced the first ever "Connecticut Revolutionary Dealer Award," to recognize state automobile dealers who sell or lease the highest number of electric vehicles (EVs) from February 1 – July 31, 2014. One award will be presented to the dealer that sells or leases the highest number of new EVs – including plug-in hybrids – and the other will go to the dealer who sells or leases the most EVs as a percentage of total sales during the period.

"Increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road is a key component in Governor Malloy's Comprehensive Energy Strategy to bring cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy to the residents and businesses of Connecticut," said DEEP Interim Commissioner Rob Klee. "Inspiring Connecticut's auto dealers to come up with creative and innovative ways to convince car buyers that electric is the way to go and will support our effort to get more EVs on the road."

"CARA is pleased to partner with DEEP in this joint recognition program," said Jim Fleming, President of CARA, "Auto dealers are critical partners in putting Connecticut on the road to clean fuels and clean vehicles because they are the first and most critical "hands-on" point of contact with prospective new car purchasers, some of whom may not have heard about the newest and most exciting transportation technologies."

Connecticut is leading the nation in developing ways to encourage residents and businesses to buy electric and other zero-emission vehicles when making transportation purchases. Since July 2013, the state has provided $177,600 to 48 towns, businesses, and schools to build 75 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state. It is estimated there are already more than 164 publicly available charging stations in our state – many located at auto dealer locations.

In addition, Connecticut joined seven other states this October in a bold initiative to work together to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. Zero-emission vehicles include battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles.

"Expanding the number of publically available charging stations in Connecticut is critical to meeting the goals of the eight-state agreement to increase consumer awareness and demand for alternative vehicles," Commissioner Klee said. "Building people's confidence in the availability of charging stations will help spark sales and use of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

"Electric vehicles are also a 'win-win' for our state because they can cut costs for motorists while improving our environment and public health," said Klee. "Cars and trucks burning gasoline and diesel are one of the largest sources of harmful air pollution and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change."

"Electric vehicles are becoming a more and more attractive option for motorists to consider," Fleming said. "They are stylish, feature great performance, and prices are becoming competitive with conventional vehicles – especially when you factor in savings achieved through reduced costs for fuel. The DEEP/CARA sales competition will encourage our sales force to highlight these features and put more drivers in Connecticut behind the wheel of an EV."

Background on Electric Vehicles

For more information on this awards program and DEEP's other efforts to support the roll out of EVs, please visit EVConnecticut. Electric cars (often referred to as electric vehicles or EVs) are powered entirely by an electric motor supplied by a large battery. Unlike traditional hybrid cars, electric cars do not have a gasoline engine; they are "fueled" by plugging into an electric charging station. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has an electric motor, an internal combustion engine and a plug to connect to the electrical grid.

Electric cars do not emit pollution when you drive them because they do not have a tailpipe. Because Connecticut has one of the cleanest electricity-production portfolios in the United States, electric cars driven in our state will be responsible for significantly less air pollution than gasoline or diesel fuel-powered cars.

Electric vehicles are also cheaper to operate than conventionally-fueled vehicles. A recent federal Department of Energy study shows that the cost of operating an electric vehicle in Connecticut is the equivalent of purchasing gasoline in the range of $1.60 - $2.00/gallon. Other cost savers of electric cars are that they are virtually maintenance-free and are exempt from Connecticut's emissions testing program if they do not use range extending gasoline engines.

Background on The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association (CARA)

The Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association is a statewide trade association representing over 250 franchised new car and truck dealerships primarily engaged in the retail sale of new and used motor vehicles, both foreign and domestically produced.