The state of California wants to make zero-emission vehicles more enticing to average buyers, the folks who so far may not have been able to afford this new technology. , average-income families will get a bigger tax rebate on the purchase of new fuel cell, electric, or plug-in hybrid cars. There's just one catch: The rebate disappears completely for high-income buyers.
This story was originally published on July 6, 2015. It has been updated with new information ahead of the date when changes go into effect.
, the new incentive structure replaces California's previous tax rebate of $2,500 on every electric vehicle sold in the state. In its place is a sliding-scale system that takes into account the type of vehicle and the buyer's annual income. The largest rebates go to individuals or families with an income less than 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Level who buy fuel cell vehicles; those who make less than $250,000 individually, or families under $500,000 jointly, get the standard $2500 for electric cars or $5000 for FCEVs. The very wealthy—those who make more than $250,000 individually or $500,000 jointly—get a $5000 tax rebate on fuel cells, but no rebates on electric or plug-in hybrid cars.
The state's incentive program seems to strongly favor fuel cell vehicles—perhaps not surprising, given that many of the U.S. market's fuel cell vehicles are only on sale in California and a small handful of other states. The adjustment seeks to quell criticism that the original rebate program had become a subsidy for very wealthy electric car buyers purchasing six-figure Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles.
As CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols , the changed incentives will help to ensure that more drivers in communities most impacted by air pollution can benefit from clean vehicles. "More ultraclean and zero-emission vehicles on our roads mean cleaner air for all Californians," she said.
To read the full document outlining the new rules, .