When the federal government drops the ball on climate change, California is eager to step up to the plate. From fighting for the Clean Air Act Waiver to aiming for 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, California lawmakers are embracing their state’s role in leading the nation on green energy policy. The federal government provides a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, but that will be phased out by manufacturer as each car maker sells 200,000 plug-in vehicles.
Assembly Bill 1184 aims to make up for the loss of the federal tax credit for electric cars in the hopes of getting more Californians behind the wheel of an electric car. The bill would provide point of sale rebates for electric cars, with the tax credit allocated based on the buyer’s income. The rebates would be phased out as natural demand rises and the electric car market stabilizes, or by 2030.
California has spent $430 million on low-emission vehicles subsidies over the past seven years, and Assembly Bill 1184 would extend that program for another seven years, but at a cost of $3 billion dollars. Rebates are currently funded by California’s cap-and-trade system, an arguably unreliable source of funding, and as of June 30th, the state’s electric car subsidy fund is broke. Once the fund runs out of money, buyers are put on a waiting list. AB 1184 aims to provide a stable source of funding to make rebates available throughout the year, with a plan based on an incentive structure the state using for solar panels.
Electric cars have gone from a fringe, impractical alternative to gas-powered vehicles, to an expensive status symbol, to a more accessible, affordable car. The Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and the new, mid-market Tesla Model 3 have made owning an electric car a more viable option for middle class Californians. Sales of electric cars rose ninety-one percent in the first quarter of 2017 from the same period last year. While electric cars still only account for 2.7% share of the cars and light trucks market -13,804 pure electric vehicles were sold out of the total 506,745 cars and light trucks sold in the first quarter of the year, with Tesla and Chevrolet accounting for most of the electric cars sold – California alone accounts for roughly 50% of all electric cars sold in the US.