- california will exclude people who make more than $150,000 a year from getting an electric-vehicle rebate starting december 3.
- the state has spent more than $800 million of taxpayer money to put 350,000 electric cars on the road in a program that started in 2010.
- tesla owners have cashed in on the majority of the state rebates.
in yet more exciting news for the state of california, the state has just decided that the practice of handing out free money to encourage people to buy electric cars has become too popular. for the second time in three years, california has tightened the income caps on buyers eligible to claim cash rewards for a new electric car.
since 2010, the state has handed out $809 million to help put 354,000 battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles on public roads. of that total, 30 percent went to people who were capable of paying six-figure prices to acquire a tesla. so after years of rewarding people earning silicon valley salaries for purchasing luxury cars, the state decided in 2016 to restrict the rebate to single filers making $250,000 or less per year. that didn't dampen the enthusiasm.
in response, the income cap is now $150,000 (or $300,000 for joint filers). plug-in hybrids with epa electric ranges of less than 35 miles—the majority of plug-ins on the market—are no longer eligible for the rebate regardless of income. any ev or phev with a base price of $60,000 or higher is off the program, too. the cutoff for the new rules is december 3. according to the los angeles times, "demand exceeds the current budget."
the rebates, while $500 lower per vehicle than before, are still generous for most buyers and lessees. battery-electric cars yield a $2000 rebate, plug-in hybrids are $1000, and hydrogen fuel-cell cars are $4500. for people who california determines earn low or moderate incomes, the rebates are meatier at $4500, $3500, and $7000, respectively. want to know how many tesla buyers who submitted rebate applications have been deemed "low income" in dire need of assistance? three percent.
unlike the federal tax credit—which many tesla owners have cheated despite the company's credits being phased out—the california rebate is straight-up cash at the point of sale, or as a check in the mail up to 18 months afterward. but very few californians want these cars. during the rebate's life cycle between 2010 and 2019, californians bought an estimated 17 million new cars and trucks. the state has paid nearly a billion dollars for 2 percent of those vehicles—including thousands of rebates paid to businesses, rental-car companies, and municipal fleets. so what if most of these rebates went to people who earn that much in a week or a couple of days? california legislators want a brighter socioeconomic tomorrow for their citizens, and this is one small part of that, at any cost.