California Bill Wants to Keep Electric Vehicles Affordable

If passed, it would be easier to afford an EV in California despite the soon-to-expire federal tax credits.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Federal tax credits for electric cars are finite and are scheduled to expire in the near future, but California doesn’t want to let that keep people from buying EVs. In a new plan called the California Electric Vehicle Initiative, EVs will continue to rival gas-powered counterparts in terms of affordability—if the bill can get through the state legislature and get Governor Jerry Brown’s signature.

Bloomberg reports the bill in its current form doesn’t say exactly how much cheaper it would make electric vehicles, but it does propose giving a greater incentive to low-income drivers interested in EVs. Keeping electric cars within reach of lower- and middle class drivers is what the bill is all about. The idea is that the upper class doesn’t need as much help paying for Teslas as the middle-class needs paying for Chevy Bolts. In total, the initiative aims to set aside up to $3 billion in the state budget for incentives.

One cool aspect of this bill is that it would reduce the sale price of EVs on dealer lots. The rebate would kick in right at the time of purchase to help alleviate the sticker shock of electric cars and cut the buyer's monthly payment. This is in contrast with the way the California state rebate exists now, which makes the owner apply for the credit after they’ve already bought an EV.

The California Electric Vehicle Initiative has already passed the state assembly and now needs to get through two state Senate committees before making it to the governor’s desk. If this works and other states follow suit, the phasing-out of federal tax breaks might not be so bad for the EV market.