On December 8, 2022, Minnesota congressman Dean Phillips introduced a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would provide a tax credit for purchases of new, qualifying, off-road plug-in electric vehicles. It’s known as H. R. 9481, or in plain language, the Michael F. Donoughe Tax Credit for Off Road Electric Vehicles Act. The bill is cosponsored by Representative Brian K. Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. 

The act’s name comes from former Polaris Chief Technology Officer Michael F. Donoughe, who sadly died in summer, 2022. Among other things, he was known for pushing Polaris’ electrification efforts forward during his time with the company, prior to his unexpected death. 

The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, as of December 23, 2022. If enacted as currently written, it would provide a 10 percent federal tax credit on qualifying electric off-road vehicles, up to $2,500.  

What are the qualifications for such off-road electric vehicles? As currently written, qualifying vehicles must tick all the following boxes: 

  • Weigh less than 3,500 pounds 
  • Have three or more wheels, as well as one or more seats 
  • Be manufactured primarily for off-road use (in other words, not for use on public streets, roads, or highways) 
  • Be designed for use primarily on rough terrain 
  • Be capable of achieving a top speed of 40 miles per hour 
  • Be acquired by the new owner after December 31, 2022 

While it’s an interesting piece of legislation, it’s unclear how far it will get before the current legislative session expires. According to the U.S. Constitution, the first date that the next Congress will be seated shall be noon on January 3, 2023. That’s an important date, because it means that all legislation introduced in the past two-year term of Congress officially expires and must be reintroduced (except in the case of treaties).  

That said, it’s worth noting here that bills are frequently introduced more than once prior to passing through both chambers of Congress and becoming law. Additionally, Representative Phillips was re-elected to the House of Representatives in November, 2022, so he will be seated as part of the new Congress in January, 2023.  

Polaris is a strong backer of this bill. As you may recall, the Minnesota-based company signed an agreement with Zero Motorcycles in 2020 to help develop future electric Polaris machines. In December, 2021, Polaris launched its first electric UTV to spring from this partnership, the Ranger XP Kinetic UTV

“The growth and interest in electrification is happening across various sectors and the off-road vehicle segment is no different,” Polaris CEO Mike Speetzen said in a statement. 

“We have seen the advantages that electric technology can provide to off-road vehicles and their performance, especially for those who use their vehicle for utility purposes. We believe the ‘Michael F. Donoughe Tax Credit for Off Road Electric Vehicles Act’ will help promote the electrification of off-road vehicles and make them more affordable to the agricultural and outdoor industry professional,” he continued. 

“On behalf of the entire Polaris team, we also are honored and deeply appreciative of Rep. Phillips’s decision to name the bill after the late Mike Donoughe, a Polaris leader who passed away unexpectedly last summer. Mike was truly passionate about advancing electrification in off-road vehicles and he played a guiding role in our efforts,” Speetzen concluded. 

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