Virginia Electric Vehicles

FILE - An electric car charging station is positioned outside a science museum. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

At the heart of California’s push toward green energy, is the promotion of affordable and efficient electric vehicles.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom set a goal to eliminate the sales of new gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2035. To this end he has signed legislation to fund a number of climate-action initiatives.

The affordability of electric vehicles which on the lower end of the scale cost around $26,000 for a Chevrolet Bolt to a high end price for the Porsche Taycan at $191,000, 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 Zero Emissions Vehicle. 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,” Governor Newsom announced in a statement released by his office on Jan. 20.

The California Air Resources Board reported in 2021 that 65% of all California Electric Vehicle 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 that the lists were suspended. Additionally, the price of electric vehicles have been on the rise keeping it out of reach for some consumers even with the rebate in place.

Last November, the California Air Resources Board approved $2.6 billion to support Zero Emission Vehicles 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 shows that 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 5 years, averaging around $185 million per year until 2026.

Last year, 345,818 ZEVs were sold in California.