New, bigger incentives for electric cars could be ahead in California – The Mercury News

Posted: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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.

“Electric cars are the future.  We have reached a tipping point and it’s time to give the electric car revolution an aggressive boost,” Ting said in a statement. “We need an incentive program to get everyone behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.”

The proposal, AB1184, 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 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. Incentives would fade out as electric vehicle costs decline.

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.

The bill drew some opposition from Republican lawmakers in the Assembly, and now faces Senate hearings.

The new program would give electric vehicle makers a dependable market to grow their business, said Steve Chadima, senior vice president at Advanced Energy Economy, a clean energy business lobby co-sponsoring the bill.

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.

The proposal also earmarks $500 million annually to promote low or zero-emission vehicles in poor communities. For example, the funds would provide incentives to switch transit vehicles from diesel to electric or hybrid. It would also help low and moderate income Californians purchase used, low emission cars.

The state now hands out rebates of between $1,500 and $5,000 to EV buyers, but studies have found much of the money goes to high income homes driving new Teslas or other premium vehicles.

The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project has issued 115,000 rebates worth $295 million to buyers of battery-powered vehicle since 2010.

Lawmakers adjusted the rebate program in March 2016, curbing allowances for wealthy buyers and offering higher rebates for low and moderate income purchasers. About $9.3 million, or 4.6 percent, went to low to moderate income buyers.

A study last year by two UC Berkeley 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.


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