As California Sales of Zero Emission Vehicles Increase, Rebates Underfunded
Written by Ria Roebuck Joseph, The Center Square
Published Jan. 26, 2023
At the heart of California’s push toward green energy is the promotion of affordable and efficient electric vehicles.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom set a goal to eliminate sales of new gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035, signing legislation to fund a number of climate-action initiatives.
The affordability of EVs---which range from around $26,000 for a Chevrolet Bolt to $191,000 for a Porsche Taycan---is all part of the equation in achieving this zero-emissions goal.
The state supports three programs that assist in transitioning to or owning a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV). This class of vehicle includes fuel cell electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles and plug–in hybrid electric vehicles. Each program has parameters for eligibility.
The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP)---the largest of the three---Clean Vehicle Assistance Program and Clean Cars 4 All administer rebates for low-income households.
Rebates from these programs range from $7,000 up to $9,500 for the purchase of a ZEV. Californians with household incomes less than or equal to 400% of the federal poverty level, or $54,360 annually, are eligible for an increased rebate amount. Individuals making below $135,000 can qualify for a rebate, but at a reduced amount.
To date, more than 30,000 low-income residents have been successful in accessing the CVRP rebates. The state will now only apply rebates to the most affordable ZEVs in its list of approved vehicles. The vehicles must be new and purchased in the state of California.
In 2022, almost 19% of all new cars sold in California were ZEVs, a 38% increase from the previous year.
“California continues to lead the zero-emission vehicle revolution with groundbreaking policies and investments that drive innovation, create good jobs and expand ZEV access and affordability across the state,” Newsom announced in a statement released by his office Jan. 20.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) reported in 2021 that 65% of all California EV owners had accessed the rebates, and $1.84 billion had been spent on the rebate programs since 2010.
However, the rebate process has become lengthy. Funding for some of the 2022 programs ran out in April and saw a waitlist as long as four months. The backlog was so great, the lists were suspended. Additionally, the price of EVs has been on the rise, keeping it out of reach for some consumers even with the rebate in place.
Last November, the CARB approved $2.6 billion to support ZEVs and the infrastructure to sustain their use in California. Seventy percent of that funding was allocated to low-income neighborhoods and disadvantaged communities.
The California Legislative Analyst’s Office said of the $6.1 billion proposed in the 2022-2023 budget for ZEV related activities, $925 million was earmarked for the rebate program for all five years, averaging around $185 million per year until 2026.
In 2022, 345,818 ZEVs were sold in California.