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California Law Puts Electric Cars in Reach of Working Families

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LOS ANGELES November 17, 2014; As the Los Angeles International Auto Show prepares to dazzle the media and the public this week with exotic dream machines, California law is gearing up to create new, cleaner transportation choices for working families. SB 1275, known as the Charge Ahead Initiative <> and signed into law in September by Gov. Jerry Brown, aims to put one million electric cars, trucks and buses onto California roads.

‚€œTalking to our communities, we‚€™ve found that too many people think of electric cars as fancy toys for the rich ‚€“ Teslas for people in Beverly Hills ‚€“ but thanks to Charge Ahead, that‚€™s not true anymore,‚€??? said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Fellow Joel Espino. ‚€œOnce the new incentives kick in, low- and moderate-income Californians in the most polluted areas will be able to buy a used electric car for just a few thousand dollars or a new one for around $20,000. Plus, there will also be new, cleaner, cheaper options for those who choose not to own a car.‚€???

Among other things, the law:

- Updates the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project that is largely responsible for bringing about 100,000 of the nation‚€™s 240,000 electric cars to California, with rebates of up to $2,500 available to buyers. To focus these rebates on working families and make the program more cost-effective, it directs the Air Resources Board to limit eligibility for such rebates based on income so that the help goes to those who need it.

- Increases financing options to help families with lower car payments when they purchase electric cars and trucks.

- Creates pilot car-sharing programs for electric cars and encourages deployment of charging stations in multi-unit residential buildings.

- Provides incentives for trading in old gas-guzzling clunkers for new or used electric vehicles. These incentives can be worth up to $9,500 for low-income drivers in specific disadvantaged communities.

- Creates a ‚€œmobility option‚€??? as an alternative to car ownership by offering vouchers for transit and electric car-sharing in lieu of vouchers for purchasing replacement vehicles for those who scrap older polluting vehicles.

The expanded programs will roll out during the first half of 2015. State officials are now writing the rules that will lay out the operational details.

‚€œElectric cars have always been a good deal once you get one in your garage, thanks to lower fuel costs,‚€??? Espino said. ‚€œPower for an electric car is like running an ordinary car on one-dollar-a-gallon gas. What‚€™s kept these cleaner cars out of the hands of working families is the up-front cost, and that‚€™s about to change for the better.‚€???

*THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute* ** <>