California program is a Cash for Internal-Combustion Clunkers deal for people in lower income brackets.
- The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Clean Cars for All program is for customers in targeted ZIP codes who meet income requirements. The program offers $5500 to $9500 to spend on a new or used plug-in electric or hydrogen vehicle for those who turn in a 2005 or earlier car.
- The program was started in 2019 and was popular, but it ran out of money. It was funded with an additional $8.3 million recently, so the incentive floodgates are back open.
- Clean Cars for All is funded by California’s cap-and-trade program, taking money from polluting industries and, in this case, giving it to lower-income residents.
We might have a new champion for the best place to live if you want to maximize the amount of government incentives you can get when you buy an electric vehicle. While everyone in the U.S. could be eligible for the federal tax credit worth up to $7500 for a new EV, states and cities have been offering various benefits in addition to the federal credit, and the revived incentive package from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) in California could reduce the price some residents pay for a new or used EV by a serious $9500.
An expansion to the Clean Cars for All incentive program was announced this week, thanks to $8.3 million in new state funding. Clean Cars for All was originally started in 2019 but was out of money until the state authorized new spending in this year’s budget. The money will not be limited to just helping car buyers, either. Instead, the BAAQMD has developed a broad set of benefits locals can get if they voluntarily take their old, dirty vehicle off the road. These benefits include grants to buy a new or used hybrid or plug-in car, similar to the old Cash for Clunkers deal that was developed under President Bush and signed by President Obama, but people who take advantage of Clean Cars for All can also opt to get a grant to buy a new electric bike or simply a prepaid card worth thousands of dollars to ride local transportation. The BAAQMD isn’t joking about taking old vehicles off the road, either. The final step in the grant process is taking the old car to an authorized dismantler, once you’ve gotten your new, greener ride.
“Not only is transportation the largest source of air pollution in the Bay Area, it accounts for 40 percent of our greenhouse-gas emissions,” Cindy Chavez, a Santa Clara County supervisor and chair of the air district board, told the Mercury News. “If we are going to be able to address this issue, we have to include low-income communities.”
Here’s how getting the vehicle purchase grant works. First, you need to live in the Bay Area, which in this case means one of the 76 ZIP codes on the program’s list. Second, you need to give up your working model year 2005 or earlier personal car that has been registered in the Bay Area for at least two years. Third, you can have a maximum household income of $51,520 for single person households, or $69,680 for two people. For a family of four, the household income has a limit of $106,000. Finally, you can’t have gotten a previous rebate from the program. Also, any vehicles that are currently registered to a non-profit or business or that are operated by a public agency or licensed for fleet use are not eligible for the program.
If you qualify for the maximum grant amount and buy or lease a new or used plug-in or hydrogen-powered vehicle, then you can get up to $9500. But the income level thresholds listed above are the upper levels to qualify for a lower-level grant, worth $5500. Households with lower income levels may qualify for either the $7500 middle tier or the $9500 top tier. Buyers of plug-in vehicles are also eligible for rebates worth $2000 to install a home charger, $600 to buy a portable Level 2 charger, or a $500 public charging card. The BAAQMD said the average Clean Cars for All vehicle costs $28,000, and the average incentive the group hands out is $8500. Clean Cars for All gets its money from California’s cap-and-trade program, which forces industries that release greenhouse gases to buy permits to do so, and that money is then spent on programs that reduce the environmental impacts of those GHGs.
Clean Cars for All can be used with another local program, the Vehicle Buyback Program, which gives local residents $1200 if they scrap their 1997 or older vehicle, or the federal incentive for new EVs, as appropriate.