Buy now or wait? What the new electric vehicle credits mean for you.

A driver stops to charge a Tesla electric car in Breezewood, Pa., on June 16. (Nate Smallwood/Bloomberg News)
8 min

With the nation’s most significant climate bill likely to become law in days, many Americans might be wondering how it could affect them. The sweeping legislation contains a slew of incentives aimed at helping individuals who want to make more climate-friendly choices — chief among them, new tax credits for electric vehicles.

The bill, dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, made it through the Senate over the weekend. The House is expected to approve it Friday, sending it to President Biden to sign into law.

The Senate passed the sprawling legislation, a key part of President Biden’s economic agenda, on Aug. 7 after almost 20 hours of debate on the Senate floor. (Video: The Washington Post)

While the tax credits have been widely heralded as a way to make new and used electric vehicles, or EVs, more affordable, many of the stipulations determining eligibility — manufacturing requirements that a number of current models likely won’t be able to meet in the short term — have sparked confusion among people scrambling to figure out how their plans to purchase these cars could be affected.

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The public confusion around the electric vehicle incentives isn’t all that surprising, said Chris Harto, a Consumer Reports senior policy analyst for transportation and energy.

“Unfortunately, in the short term, this change to the tax credits makes an already challenging EV market even more challenging,” Harto said. “But ultimately, in the long run, it’s going to be great for consumers and great for especially middle-income mainstream consumers getting into more affordable EVs down the road.”

Here’s what Harto and other experts say you need to know about the electric vehicle tax credits and how to potentially take advantage of them.

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