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How much would it take to get you to buy an electric car? California could increase rebates

Elizabeth Shwe, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Automotive News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- What would it take to motivate more California drivers to buy electric cars the next time they go to the dealer?

A California lawmaker who in the past has proposed banning sales of new gas-powered cars wants to find out.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, is carrying a bill that would increase state-funded electric car rebates up to as much as $7,500, rising from today's top rebate of $2,500.

Over time, Ting's bill would reduce the value of the rebates, giving car buyers an incentive to move faster in switching to electric vehicles.

"There is no real incentive to buy or lease a zero-emission vehicle right now if consumers know the rebate level will be the same year after year," Ting said.

He says he's trying to accomplish a goal former Gov. Jerry Brown set last year with a new law that aims to put 5 million zero emission electric vehicles on California roads by 2030.

 

Today, only about 600,000 electrical vehicles are in use in the state. They tend to be more expensive than gas-powered cars and their cost is considered a major factor in buyers' decision to stick with the internal combustion engine.

"The goal would be if we were able to create a large enough market for clean cars that they would be cost competitive with gas cars. We think this bill is a very key component on moving our way into our 5 million clean car future by 2030," Ting said at a hearing on Tuesday.

California's existing rebate program gives $2,500 rebate for battery electric vehicles and $1,500 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, a basic flat rebate that has not been revised for more than five years.

It has been underfunded at times, causing car buyers to be placed on waiting lists rather than receiving rebates. This year's state budget, for instance, allocates about $170 million less for the program than the state estimates it will cost, according to an analysis of the bill by the Senate Transportation Committee.

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