California state capitol, Sacramento
The state of California has a long track record of supporting electric cars and doing everything possible to ensure plug-in vehicles can be obtained by the largest number of drivers.
Aside from the federal income-tax credits available nationally, the state of California has its own purchase rebates. Local utilities have also begun to incentivize electric cars.
However, state and local credits don't match the hefty $7,500 credit offered by the U.S. federal government—and that will be phased out for each maker that sells 200,000 plug-in cars.
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California wants to fix that looming problem: a new bill proposed by state Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco seeks to make up that incentive when the federal credits eventually expire.
Ting says his bill, AB 1184, would be an "aggressive boost" to help get "everyone behind the wheel of an electric vehicle."
The bill would provide point-of-sale rebates for electric cars, which would be scaled down as natural demand starts to support the market and sales reach sustainable levels—by 2030, according to the legislation.
Tesla Solar Roof
In total, $3 billion for the incentives would come from "taxpayer-neutral sources" and would be allocated based on the buyer's income.
Lower-income individuals would receive larger incentives to purchase electric cars, while wealthier individuals would pay a greater part of the purchase price.
Taking a closer look at the bill reveals it may be most immediately helpful to one specific carmaker, however: Tesla.
The fine print reveals that only electric vehicles with more than a 200-mile range would be eligible.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV meets the criteria, and the upcoming 2018 Nissan Leaf will likely dispatch the figure as well.
But, the bill goes on to bar any automaker from using the proposed new California credit until its federal eligibility has expired.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV added to Maven car- and ride-sharing fleet in Los Angeles, California
The federal tax credit is slowly phased out after an automaker reaches the 200,000 mark, a figure Tesla is likely to surpass some time during 2018 if its Model 3 sales get going.
General Motors and Nissan would likely be the next makers to qualify.
But the language means such automakers as Ford, Volkswagen, and the German luxury marques wouldn't be eligible until much later than the proposed rollout date of September 2018.
The bill is far from becoming state law, however. Its next step is facing a pair of initial votes in State Senate committees.
California, long a leader in emission-free transportation policy, is the only state now contemplating how to make up for the federal income-tax incentive as it expires.
And those "taxpayer-neutral" revenue sources will have to be figured out as well.