In coordination with local air officials, the California Air Resources Board is initiating a retire-and-replace pilot program in the Greater Los Angeles area and San Joaquin Valley to help people of low income replace old, polluting cars with cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles that also cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The air district-administered program provides incentives on a sliding scale, with larger cash payments for the lowest-income families moving up to the cleanest cars. The lowest-income recipient purchasing the very cleanest car receives the highest incentive amounts. Under the program, it is possible for a family that meets income guidelines to receive as much as $12,000 toward the purchase of an electric car.
Consumers can choose to replace their vehicle with a more fuel efficient conventional gasoline-powered car, a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid or an electric car. Eligible consumers will receive between $2,500 and $12,000, depending on their income and the type of replacement vehicle they choose.
The pilot program is available for three income levels:
Low Income (≤ 225% of the federal poverty level, FPL). Buyers in this income level who replace a scrapped car with a conventional hybrid car (e.g.Toyota Prius) that is less than 8 years old that gets 20 mpg or greater, are eligible for $6,500 in incentives. If the replacement car gets 35 mpg or greater (Toyota Prius or Honda Insight), that goes up to $7,000. A plug-in hybrid (e.g. Chevy Volt), or an electric car (e.g. Nissan Leaf) receives $9,500.
In addition, up to $2,000 for a charging unit at a single residence or multi-unit dwelling is available for the purchase of battery electric cars. In the case of either a brand new plug-in hybrid or electric car, buyers receive an additional $1,500 and $2,500, respectively, from a separate program, known as the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.
Moderate Income (226% - 300% of FPL). Buyers who replace a scrapped car with a conventional hybrid model that gets 35 mpg or greater receive $5,000, rising to $7,500 for a plug-in hybrid or electric car. (In addition, buyers can receive up to $2,000 for a charging unit for battery electric cars, and if those are brand new cars, an additional $1,500 or $2,500, respectively.)
Above Moderate Income (301% - 400% of federal poverty level). Buyers who replace a scrapped car with a plug-in hybrid or electric car receive $5,500—which includes an additional incentive of up to $2,000 for the charging unit for battery electric cars, and an additional $1,500 or $2,500, respectively, if they are brand new.
Lower-income consumers who would like to replace their dirty cars with more fuel efficient conventional cars would still qualify to receive up to $4,500.
Additional funding is available for low-income recipients who live in a ZIP code that contains a disadvantaged census tract for the purchase of a conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric replacement vehicle. (SB 535, introduced by State Senator Kevin de Leon, directs funds to provide economic and health benefits to the state’s disadvantaged communities—those that are most impacted by both poverty and pollution.)
Finally, residents who scrap an old, dirty car but choose not to replace it are eligible for public transit passes valued at between $2,500 and $4,500, depending on their income.
ARB worked for more than a year with the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in support of the development of the pilot projects. Each air district developed a program tailored to the individual needs of that district. The program (also known as the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program and Plus-Up Pilot Project) is partially funded by proceeds from cap-and-trade revenue under the California Climate Investments Initiative and AB 118.
Besides SB 535, another bill helping to drive the program is SB 1275, the Charge Ahead California Initiative, also introduced by Senator de Leon, which aims to ensure that low-income Californians, who are disproportionately impacted by air pollution, benefit from California’s transition to a clean transportation sector.