Equity is a goal, not a mandate, in California’s electric car rule

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Reduced prices, car-sharing programs and at least one million more public charging stations are among the ways California will try to make it easier to buy and drive electric cars by removing gradually the sale of gasoline-powered cars. cars.

But the state won’t force automakers to participate in equity programs designed to ensure people of all income levels can buy electric cars.

“This rule had the opportunity to really pave the way for low-income households to have more affordable access and price (for) electric vehicles, but it missed the mark,” said Roman Partida- Lopez, legal counsel for transportation equity at the Greenlining Institute.

Instead, automakers will get extra credit for their sales allowances if they make cars available for car sharing or other programs for disadvantaged Californians. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has pledged $10 billion over six years for incentives to get electric vehicles into the hands of low-income residents, charging infrastructure and other efforts to put cleaner cars and trucks on the road. the road.

An example is the Stockton Mobility Collective. Designed to increase transportation options in disadvantaged areas of the city, the collective will set up five to seven neighborhood charging stations with 30 electric cars that people can rent by the hour or day. The first cars and charging stations were launched last week in an apartment complex. The program got $7.4 million from the state.

The number of car owners in South Stockton is low, so interest in the program is high, said Christine Corrales, senior regional planner for the program. But this is only the first step in what must be a major effort to make electric vehicles a realistic option for low-income Californians.

“If the infrastructure isn’t available locally, it can be difficult to encourage people to adopt and change,” she said. “It’s something we try to be proactive about.”

Regulations passed by the California Air Resources Board last week state that by 2035 the state will require automakers to sell only electric or hydrogen-powered cars, though some may be plug-in hybrids using gas and batteries. People will still be able to buy gas-powered used cars, and automakers will continue to sell plug-in hybrids. Beyond issues of affordability and access, the state will need to overcome skepticism from people who think electric cars just aren’t for them.

“We need to get past the elitism of electric car ownership,” said Daniel Myatt, who brought an electric car in 2020 as part of the state’s Clean Cars 4 All program, which he signed up for. qualified when he was out of work due to illness.

Since 2015, more than 13,000 electric cars have been purchased under the program. It’s offering people up to $9,500 to trade in their gas-powered cars for electric or hybrid models.

About 38% of the money spent on a separate rebate program went to low-income or disadvantaged communities, and the state has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building charging stations in those neighborhoods. Today, however, there are only 80,000 public charging stations in the state, well below the 1.2 million the state estimates it will need by 2030.

Under the new regulations, automakers can get additional credit for their sales allowances if they participate in multiple equity programs.

These programs include: selling discounted cars for car sharing or other community programs; ensure that cars coming out of lease go to California dealerships that participate in trade-in programs; or sell cars at a discount. To meet the third option, cars would have to cost less than $20,275 and light trucks less than $26,670 to qualify for the additional credit. This only applies to model years 2026 through 2028, and there are no restrictions on who these cars can be sold to.

Southern California EVen Access is using a $2.5 million state grant to install at least 120 chargers across a 12-county region, in apartment complexes and public places like library parking lots. Owners of apartment complexes can get $2,500 per charger installed on the property.

Overall, the state should provide more public messaging about programs available to purchase electric vehicles so that all communities can reap the benefits of fewer cars that generate emissions and pollution, Lujuana Medina said, responsible for environmental initiatives for the county of Los Angeles. The state must also invest in a workforce that can sustain an electric transportation economy, she said.

“There will have to be really progressive public benefit programs that will help drive the adoption and sales of electric vehicles, she said.

Alicia Young of Santa Clara, Calif., wasn’t sure when she first heard about the state’s exchange program. But she eventually pursued the matter, leaving behind her 2006 Nissan for a plug-in hybrid from Ford. It cost $9,000 after its trade-in value.

The car drives smoother and as fast as any gasoline-powered car she has ever owned. She mainly uses it with battery charges, although she still fills the gas tank about once a month. The apartment complex where she lives with her mother does not have car chargers, so she often uses charging stations at the grocery store or other public places.

She has shared information about the exchange program with her colleagues at the seniors’ retirement center where she works, but many of them seem suspicious, she said. The state could accelerate adoption by having public messengers from a wide variety of backgrounds to help build trust in electric cars, she said.

“It’s a bit different at first, but that’s normal with any new car,” she said.

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