California cuts electric-car rebates, drops luxury models

Should somebody making a million dollars a year, wanting to buy a car receive a subsidy?  If so, shouldn’t someone making $45,000 a year also receive a subsidy for buying a car.  In the first case the car bought is going to harm the environment in the making of the vehicle—an electric car.  In the other case, the care will provide a better standard of living for a family.

“Effective Tuesday, state regulators have stopped offering rebates for buyers of electric cars or plug-in hybrid vehicles that cost more than $60,000 — a move that will make buyers of high-end Tesla models dig deeper into their pockets.

The state Air Resources Board, the agency that regulates the program, has also reduced the standard rebate by $500 per vehicle, from $2,500 to $2,000 for all-electric cars, and eliminated rebates for plug-in hybrid cars with an electric-battery range of less than 35 miles.

Agency officials said the changes will ensure that more people will receive rebates, particularly those with low incomes. Currently, funding for the program runs out every fiscal year, forcing many buyers to join a waiting list that can extend for months.

But some advocates for clean cars have criticized the move, saying reducing rebates could deter buyers at a crucial time, as electric car sales surge following years of sluggish growth. Electric cars are typically more expensive than comparable gas-powered models, and the state rebates, combined with a federal tax break, can slice thousands of dollars off the sticker price.

Is it the rol of the taxpayer to finance junk science, corrupt unions and crony corporations?  If I want an electric car, why should I force you to pay more in taxes to help pay for it?  This is a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich—a theft from those in need to those in greed.

California cuts electric-car rebates, drops luxury models

Dustin Gardiner, SF Chronicle,   12/4/19 

California’s rebate program to coax more drivers to buy electric vehicles just got less generous, especially for those looking to spend on a luxury model.

Effective Tuesday, state regulators have stopped offering rebates for buyers of electric cars or plug-in hybrid vehicles that cost more than $60,000 — a move that will make buyers of high-end Tesla models dig deeper into their pockets.

The state Air Resources Board, the agency that regulates the program, has also reduced the standard rebate by $500 per vehicle, from $2,500 to $2,000 for all-electric cars, and eliminated rebates for plug-in hybrid cars with an electric-battery range of less than 35 miles.

Agency officials said the changes will ensure that more people will receive rebates, particularly those with low incomes. Currently, funding for the program runs out every fiscal year, forcing many buyers to join a waiting list that can extend for months.

But some advocates for clean cars have criticized the move, saying reducing rebates could deter buyers at a crucial time, as electric car sales surge following years of sluggish growth. Electric cars are typically more expensive than comparable gas-powered models, and the state rebates, combined with a federal tax break, can slice thousands of dollars off the sticker price.

Melanie Turner, a spokeswoman for the Air Resources Board, said the new rules put an emphasis on rebates for disadvantaged communities, including areas with higher pollution and lower incomes.

Under the rules, low-income buyers will still be eligible for higher rebates, which are unchanged: $4,500 for all-electric cars and $3,500 for hybrids that run on a combination of gas and plug-in battery.

“California simply cannot meet its clean air or climate goals without transforming and cleaning up all our cars and trucks with an emphasis on putting ultra-clean vehicles in communities that need them the most, which are those most impacted by pollution,” Turner said in an email.

California leads the nation in electric-car sales, and the state has issued rebates to 354,064 car buyers since its program began in 2011. About 5% of rebates have been earmarked for low- and moderate-income people, currently defined as those earning less than $50,730 for a household of two.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, a vocal advocate for electric cars in the Legislature, criticized the changes. He said the new rules create confusion for buyers.

“The rebate program could be killed by death by 1,000 bureaucratic memos,” Ting told The Chronicle.

Ting sponsored a bill this year that could have tripled rebates, but it died in committee. He said the state should ramp up incentives and decrease them over time with a specific end date, so people have incentive to buy now.

The Air Resources Board plans to spend $238 million on rebates this year. But the program has no specified end date, and recent changes to rebate amounts and eligibility rules were announced with a month’s notice.

“If you don’t tell people when the deadline is, they’re not going to know,” Ting said of the state’s approach. “It would be like having a Black Friday sale and nobody knows when it is.”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.