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California “gasoline superuser” bill advances; focusing ZEV incentives on reducing gasoline use

The California Assembly Transportation Committee passed a landmark ZEV incentive reform bill, AB 2816, by a 6-2 vote on Monday. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to maximize the climate and equity impacts of the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) incentive programs by linking the amount of incentive to a driver’s past gasoline or diesel consumption level, with larger amounts for lower income drivers.

By shifting the biggest gasoline users into ZEVs first, AB 2816 also reduces the total number of ZEVs that would be needed to reach the state’s near-term target of cutting light-duty vehicle emissions in half by 2030.

If passed, this bill would make California the first government in the world to focus ZEV incentives on maximizing cuts in gasoline consumption.

California’s biggest gasoline users currently are on track to be the last people to switch to ZEVs. ZEV incentives tend to be used by higher income drivers and do not focus on reducing gasoline use.

If your goal is to reduce emissions, incentivizing people that drive the most and use the most gas is an efficient way to accomplish that goal. There’s nobody you see driving more than a landscaper. If they were to switch to a ZEV, I can see tremendous savings.

—Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-Central Coast)

AB 2816 applies to ZEV incentive programs that receive funding from, or are administered by, CARB including Clean Cars 4 All, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), and the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program. As currently written, the bill requires CARB, on or before 1 January 2024, to develop a tool to calculate the average annual gallons of gasoline or diesel that a particular vehicle has used by using both:

  1. Publicly available data on the miles per gallon rating of the make, model, and year of the vehicle; and

  2. The odometer reading at the time the applicant registered the vehicle, and the current odometer reading.

Beginning in 2024, ZEV incentives would be awarded based on the average annual gallons of gasoline or diesel that the applicant’s vehicle consumed.

The bill requires CARB to set the amount of the incentive at a level that maximizes the displacement of gasoline or diesel and the reduction of emissions criteria pollutants per dollar spent. Additionally, CARB must provide additional per gallon incentive payments to applicants that are low- or moderate-income.

The applicant swill have to sell or otherwise surrender the internal combustion engine vehicle on which the incentive payment is based.

The bill also requires CARB to develop and implement a strategy for:

  1. Identifying the drivers who use the most gasoline or diesel and are low to moderate income; and

  2. Expediting the replacement of gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles of the above identified drivers with ZEVs.

AB 2816 is based on concepts outlined in a report published last summer by the nonprofit Coltura. The report provides an in-depth look at the heaviest users of gasoline—“Gasoline Superusers”—and proposes EV policy changes to incentivize them to switch to EVs faster.

Light duty vehicles cause 28% of California’s total carbon emissions and pollute the air near freeways and busy roads. According to the research by Coltura, drivers in the top 10% for gasoline consumption in the US each use at least 1,000 gallons of gasoline a year and drive on average 30,000 miles.

Many of these “Gasoline Superusers” are lower income consumers who cannot afford to live near where they work or must drive long distances as part of their work, and who spend a large percentage of their household income on vehicle fuel.

On average, switching from a gasoline car to a ZEV saves 40% on maintenance and 50% on fuel.

The bill now goes to the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, where it will be heard on 25 April.


Jason Burr

Irony here is these particular users that commute long distance or travel for work ALSO less likely to be able to drive EV. Between electricity rates that make EV "fuel" even with gas (in CA), distance traveled being at limit of EV range (not window sticker but real world), jobs that very likely don't provide charging (either for fee or included), nor charger local to work location, and limited charging opportunities near/at home.

These "low income" drivers usually driving older cars because they can't afford newer, more efficient cars, are also less likely to be able to afford EV for their higher cost to obtain (purchase/lease), insure, keep tires on them.

This feels like most homeless programs. They provide housing, but never take care of why people are homeless. Unless you fix the cause then result will happen again.


I see the cure for this is an EV that low income drivers can afford.
The $7.5k fed incentive is an attempt to offset the high EV startup costs; but, because during high demand, as like now, the car maker adds this incentive into the price of the car so that indirectly it's becomes a $7.5 K addition to his profit margin.
What's needed is a twenty thousand dollar EV family sedan, without the incentives, and the guy who can get it to market will become another Henry Ford.
And, Regardless! It's time to take off all the stops and let nothing stand in the way; the welfare of everyone on the Planet is at stake, even the fossil fuel Republicans.

Janelle London

Superusers drive around 100 miles a day -- Most EVs today can cover that range and much more. Also, recall superusers are buying around 1,000 gallons of gas a year, and often spending a lot on maintenance. By switching to an EV they can end up saving $500 a month. That is sufficient to cover the monthly car payments on an EV in many cases. So the incentive helps with the initial EV payment , and the fuel savings helps fund the monthly payments.

Joseph Wilder

It was a counter-incentive to charge EV users $100 per year extra on their vehicle registration. Why did CA do this if they are so intent on encouraging drivers to switch to EVs?

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