Money For California's Electric-Car Rebates Is Gone. Will Newsom Restore It?

Monday, May 3, 2021

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

California’s main rebate program to coax more drivers to buy electric cars has run out of money — and there’s no guarantee that buyers on the waiting list will get checks later.

The program, one of the largest electric-car rebate efforts in the world, is destined to end unless the Legislature goes against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to cut funding for it next fiscal year, starting July 1.

Newsom wants to redirect money that has gone to most buyers of new electric cars, spending it instead to increase incentives for lower-income buyers. He also wants to install more public charging stations.

But he faces resistance from some legislators and electric-car advocates, who say cutting rebates could undermine the state’s climate goals.

Money for the rebate program ran out last month. Electric vehicle sales surged in the first few months of this year, after plummeting in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Without rebates, it would be a significant step backwards in this struggle to transform our vehicles into clean cars,” said Assembly Member Phil Ting, the San Francisco Democrat who chairs the Budget Committee.

Ting said Assembly Democrats will propose restoring funding for the program, though they have yet to set an amount. In the Senate, Democrats have proposed to spend $525 million on rebates over the next three years.

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