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$3 billion legislation could boost California EVs

Phil Ting at the SA EV Arc - testing an electric BMW Source: Express News

The state Assembly is considering legislation that would provide $3 billion for California’s zero emissions incentive programme.

The bill, proposed by Phil Ting, would be used to create the California Electric Car Initiative which would operate for at least the next 12 years. The programme is intended to regulate costs for consumers by keeping the costs of EVs and PHEVs to the same level as that of ICEs. This price parity will be made up using rebates and federal tax credits.

Jerry Brown, California’s governor since 2011, is pressuring relevant parties to help increase the number of zero emission vehicle on the state’s roads. Currently, California is only home to approximately 300,000 EVs but Brown wants to quintuple this to 1.5 million by 2025. It’s going to be a tough task; last year, zero emissions cars accounted for only 2% of the 2 million new vehicles sold in the state. It seems that currently, there is just not enough rolling momentum behind the spending power of car buyers.

The usual developments have been touted alongside the monetary incentives. There will be an expansion of the state’s EV charging network, particularly in urban areas, as well as flexibility when qualifying for zero emission status from the California Air Resources Board. This is presumably so that companies using fleet vehicles or company cars could still benefit.

What is more interesting is the social nature of the programme. The state has listened to a recent study which indicates that rebates have previously mainly benefitted the wealthier residents. Therefore, the money a consumer can receive will be capped according to income. However, the system may need a little tweaking – the maximum income allowed ($150,000) is somewhat small-fry in some areas of California.

In order to fund the initiative, the State has revamped the way its rebate system works by making the refund process much quicker and much more reliable. However, there is still no news on who exactly is putting that money into the programme. We can only assume that it will come from governmental input and taxes. However, Ting is clearly hopeful for the success of the scheme, both in terms of uptake and benefit to the economy – “We’ve been able to dispel the notion that you can’t clean the environment and grow the economy,” Ting says. “The next wave is electric vehicles.”

NextGen Climate America COO, Dan Lashof, praises the bill, stating that he thinks it “will jolt the EV market to the mainstream.” Despite the backing of Lashof company, among others, the bill will need to be approved by both houses of the California legislature before becoming law. However, California has a good track record for opposing inaction, the implementation of zero emission vehicle incentives and public fleets. Hopefully that means that it will be more than welcoming to Ting’s bill.


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