California Adds $14,000 Low-Income EV Incentive

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Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - June 21, 2024
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With automakers slowly coming out with more affordable electric vehicles, California is setting its sights on helping low-income shoppers make the switch to an all-electric vehicle. Under California’s new Driving Clean Assistance Program (DCAP), the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will provide low-income consumers with up to $14,000 to purchase or lease a new or used clean vehicle. The new DCAP appears to be CARB’s way of expanding access to the Clean Cars 4 All (CC4A) program, though it’s interesting to see the government agency do so by introducing a new program.

In order to receive the full $14,000, shoppers must be a resident of California, apply for the program before leasing or purchasing a vehicle, and have not previously participated in any CARB light duty vehicle purchase incentive programs (including the old Clean Vehicle Rebate Project) in the past. The program also has an income limit in place, as shoppers have to be at or below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is currently at $93,600 for a family of four.

Shoppers who meet these requirements will be able to get up to $14,000 off their purchase of a clean vehicle. Low-income consumers living in a disadvantaged community who have a vehicle to scrap will get up to $12,000 toward the purchase of a clean vehicle and a $2,000 charging incentive. For shoppers who are not living in a disadvantaged community, the amount for the vehicle purchase grant decreases to $10,000, but the $2,000 charging incentive remains the same. Shoppers who do not have a vehicle to scrap will get $7,500 toward the purchase of a vehicle and $2,000 as a charging incentive.

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DCAP is the latest program from CARB as it looks to help shoppers of all income levels purchase an EV. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) ran out of funds in September 2023 and officially closed to new applications in November 2023. At the time, CARB announced that it would be transitioning from the CVRP to a new program that looked to help low- and middle-income shoppers. That new program is called CC4A and it has more restrictive income limits to specifically help low-income consumers compared to the CVRP.

CC4A, at least in its current form, provides shoppers with a rebate of up to $14,000 when trading in a gas-powered car for an electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid, or fuel-cell electric vehicle. The rebate amount is based on a few factors that include income and the type of vehicle that’s being purchased.

For the maximum amount through CC4A, shoppers must have an income that’s less than or equal to 300% of the Federal Poverty Level and live in a disadvantaged community. With these requirements met, the incentive amount is $7,000 for shoppers who purchase an eight-year-old-or-newer hybrid electric vehicle with a combined rating of at least 35 mpg; $11,500 and up to $2,000 for charging for an eight-year-old-or-newer PHEV; and $12,000 and up to $2,000 for charging for an eight-year-old-or-newer zero-emission vehicle.

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Individuals who do not live in a disadvantaged community get $9,500 and $2,000 for charging for an eight-year-old-or-newer PHEV and $10,000 and up to $2,000 for charging for an eight-year-old-or-newer zero-emission vehicle. The incentive remains at $7,500 for shoppers who purchase a hybrid.

Comparing DCAP to CC4A, both programs offer low-income shoppers with similar incentives, but have different requirements. DCAP requires shoppers to scrap their vehicle to get the full amount and doesn’t have a restriction on what kind of vehicle can be purchased beyond stating that it has to be a “clean vehicle.” Shoppers who meet the requirements and have an older vehicle should look into DCAP before CC4A, as it’s not as restrictive.

CARB claimed that it wanted to get rid of CVRP and introduce new programs to help low-income shoppers and it looks like that’s what DCAP and CC4A do. It’s a different approach than what other states like Colorado does, which provides a blanket tax credit of $5,000 for leases or purchases of an EV or a PHEV that can be stacked with the federal EV tax credit. The only eligibility requirement for Colorado’s program is a MSRP cap of $80,000.

Source: California Air Resources Board

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, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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