$3 billion in rebates and incentives proposed.
California could be poised to set up more generous rebates and incentives for electric vehicle buyers — and not just affluent drivers cruising in Teslas.
Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, is pushing a proposal to establish a $3 billion fund to support the spread of electric vehicles with bigger rebates, more programs for low-income buyers and the deployment of more charging stations. It would also deliver discounts at dealerships, eliminating the need for consumers to file for tax rebates.
Ting says the proposal would give the electric vehicle market an aggressive push and help California hit its ambitious environmental goals.
“We’ve been able to dispel the notion that you can’t clean the environment and grow the economy,” he says. “The next wave is electric vehicles.”
The proposal is a huge leap in funding from current programs, which have given $420 million to low- and zero-emission vehicle owners since 2010. Funds are expected to be diverted from existing sources, with details set by the California Air Resources Board.
The program would provide a boost to Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of having 1.5 million clean cars on California roads by 2025. Only about 300,000 electric vehicles have been sold in the state.
Zero-emission vehicles accounted for less than 2 percent of the 2 million new cars sold in California last year.
Supporters believe the measure, called the California Electric Vehicle Initiative, will fuel the market for electric vehicles, much like state incentives did for the rooftop solar industry a decade ago.
Incentives would fade out as electric vehicle costs decline.
The bill drew some opposition from Republican lawmakers in the Assembly, and now faces Senate hearings.
If the proposal is approved, supporters expect the new rebate program to roll out late next year.
The new program would give electric vehicle makers a dependable market to grow their business, says Steve Chadima, senior vice president at Advanced Energy Economy, a clean energy business association co-sponsoring the bill.
The market for electric vehicles is “coming along,” says Chadima. “It’s just not coming along quickly enough.”
California has several electric vehicle startups, including Palo Alto-based Tesla.
The air resources board would determine the size of a rebate based on equalizing the cost of an EV and a comparable gas-powered car. For example, a new, $40,000 electric vehicle might have the same features as a $25,000 gas-powered car. The EV buyer would receive a $7,500 federal rebate, and the state would kick in an additional $7,500 to even out the bottom line.
Two new electric vehicles that deliver over 200 miles of range on a single charge — the Chevy Bolt and the forthcoming Tesla Model 3 — carry sticker prices around $35,000.
Ting says the market for affordable, long-range electric vehicles is just developing.
The proposal also continues an existing program that dedicates $500 million annually to promote low or zero-emission vehicles in poor communities. The funds provide incentives to switch transit vehicles from diesel to electric or hybrid, and also help low- and moderate-income Californians purchase used, low-emission cars.
The proposal is essentially an expansion of a state program that now hands out rebates of between $1,500 and $5,000 to buyers of electric vehicles and hybrids. Rebates for plug-in hybrids may decrease under the new bill.
The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project has issued 115,000 rebates worth $295 million to buyers of battery-powered vehicles since 2010. Critics say the program favors wealthier Californians who can afford new cars.
Lawmakers adjusted the rebate program in March 2016, curbing allowances for wealthy buyers and offering higher rebates for low- and moderate-income purchasers.
A study last year by two UC Berkeley-trained researchers of nearly 100,000 rebates found that more than 80 percent of the checks went to Californians reporting an income greater than $100,000. The money went primarily into communities with few black and Latino residents.