California Giving Away Money To Help Middle Class Buy Green Cars

A new California program will help middle class Los Angeles residents get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle (EV) or plug-in hybrid. California will expand its Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program and offer Los Angelinos incentives on a sliding scale based on their income. For example, a family that meets certain criteria could receive up to $12,000 to purchase an EV or plug-in hybrid. For some, the incentive could even result in a free car.

The new program will increase the amount of incentives Californians can qualify for, while also covering used cars for the first time. Used hybrid and EVs only recently became widely available, and that means if a resident applies for a large enough incentive, they could end up covering the entire cost of the used car.

Plug-in hybrids and EVs have been hailed as an important method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, their higher cost often prices out middle- and low-income Americans. The new program wants to change that, putting green cars in the hands, and garages, of more Los Angelinos.

Hybrid cars produce 25 – 30% less emissions than standard gas-fueled vehicles, and many electric vehicles produce little to no emissions. Governor Jerry Brown has said he wants 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California roads by 2025, an ambitious but achievable goal. In Los Angeles and Orange County alone, there are an estimated 10 million registered cars.

In 2012, U.S. consumers purchased an estimated 2.2 million hybrid cars, while 4.5 million were sold worldwide. But with falling gas prices and increased fuel efficiency on standard vehicles, sales of hybrids and EV’s have fallen sharply over the past two years.

Mary D. Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, says the new incentive “will put money in [drivers’] wallets by slashing what they spend at the pump.” She added, “California’s efforts to fight climate change will benefit us all.”

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