All charged up

Congress' scramble to find an agreeable step back from the so-called "fiscal cliff" had Brammo boss Craig Bramscher holding his breath until late Tuesday night, when the House passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.

Within the bill is an extension of a 10 percent tax credit for electric vehicle buyers.

"In terms of the federal budget, it's a drop in the bucket, but it sure means a lot to us," said Bramscher, Brammo's founder and chief executive officer. "It's a great way to start the year. ... Six months ago, if you would have asked me whether this was going to pass, I would not have given you very good odds."

After receiving an array of text-message updates Tuesday night from a Brammo representative on Capitol Hill, a relieved Bramscher Wednesday applauded Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Republican Rep. Greg Walden for their work in keeping the legislation relevant.

"We've been working closely with Senator Wyden's office and with Walden's office on the House side for most of the year trying to get it restarted," Bramscher said. "We would have loved to have seen it earlier, but it seems like everything is in order now."

The tax credit was extended to two-wheeled electric vehicles through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2010, but was allowed to expire by Congress at the beginning of 2012 along with the rest of the federal Production Tax Credit lumped into the reinvestment act.

"We were kind of at the mercy of the bigger budget issues," said Jeff Allen, executive director of Drive Oregon, the state's electric vehicle industry support association.

"It's not that people expect to have these tax credits to continue forever, but it's going to take a few years for these products to get their spot in the marketplace," Allen said. "This is fabulous to see, because the electric vehicle industry is significant in Oregon."

The renewed incentive already is generating interest from customers, said Don Lemelin, owner of San Francisco-based Scuderia West, an authorized dealer of Brammo bikes.

"The last phone call I took was somebody that just got word that the tax credit was passed," Lemelin said. "I think it will definitely drive sales of the electric bikes. "… There is a substantial number of people who think, 'Well, if it was a little more affordable, it would be easier to justify.' Suddenly, this is starting to look like a really good deal."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

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