California is making changes to its electric car rebate program to target low-income vehicle buyers. The popular Clean Vehicle Incentive Project, which has been running since 2010, will end this year when funds run out. Instead, next year the state will expand a program that provides grants exclusively to low- and middle-income residents who have difficulty purchasing electric vehicles.
Under the current system, individuals earning up to $135,000 and co-applicants earning up to $200,000 are eligible for refunds of between $7,500 and $2,000. However, the income limits in the new program will be much more restrictive, lowered to 300% of the federal poverty level.
The aim of this shift in focus is to make electric cars more affordable and accessible to a greater number of people as these vehicles become increasingly popular. California’s goal is for 35% of new car models sold in the state to be zero-emission vehicles by 2026. The proportion is expected to rise to 68% by 2030 and reach 100% by 2035.
To support this transition, the state will expand the Clean Cars 4 All program statewide next year. The revised program will provide up to $12,000 to people who scrap their older gasoline cars and replace them with cleaner alternatives. Those who don’t have an old car to trade in may be eligible for grants of up to $7,500 toward the purchase of a new vehicle.
Although some car dealers worry that removing incentives for middle- to high-income people could deter people from buying electric cars, experts argue that targeting low-income consumers will help democratize clean transportation and promote electric vehicles to a larger scale to make number of people more accessible.