In the summer, we called on Congress to consider lifting the automaker-specific 200,000-vehicle cap for federal tax credits aimed at jump-starting the market for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
We weren't alone; both General Motors and Tesla have made it clear they'd like Congress to get rid of the cap as well. It's little wonder, as both companies are about to cross the 200,000 threshold, and no automaker gives up free money without at least asking for it to continue.
Unsurprisingly — given the lack of achievement in nearly all sectors for the outgoing Congress — the people's representatives in Washington chose not to act and left as is the existing law, which dates to the George W. Bush administration.
So be it. Now Tesla and GM face a marketplace where not only is the advantage of the $7,500 tax credit falling away, but there is new competition from a wide range of competitors with electrified vehicles and all or most of their 200,000 tax credits still intact.
GM and Tesla will be at a disadvantage without the credit, but such is the cost of being first. Both have benefited from their decisions to enter an important field viewed by their competitors as too costly or too fraught with risk. They've captured the hearts of early adopters.
In theory, GM and Tesla vehicles should enjoy distinct technological advantages over competitors just joining the electric fray. Both the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 have pushed the powertrain development envelope, and both have developed their own following among consumers.
Eventually, every automaker entering the electric space will brush up against the same cap and see their taxpayer-funded sales juice dry up as well. EVs finally will be forced to stand completely on their own against other technologies.
A Republican Congress didn't act on the credits, and an incoming divided Congress is even less likely to do so. The field has been set, and the chips are about to fall as they will.