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Electric Car Subsidies For Poor People Are A Thing In California

Hybrid and electric cars can make a huge difference in reducing local air quality, and can help their owners save money while staying more insulated against the volatility of fossil fuel prices. Unfortunately, most plug-in electric cars cost more than the used cars that lower-income families and communities — the people who could most benefit from EV fuel savings, in other words — can typically afford. It doesn’t have to be that way, however, and California’s Air Resource Board (CARB) is working to help low-income families get access to EVs by issuing vouchers starting at $2500.

CARB’s vouchers address the fact that the average US household spends on average anywhere between $9,000 and $10,000 each year on transportation energy — for a single-earner making $20-30K per year, that number represents a serious lack of mobility and freedom. With net operating costs approaching zero for cars like Nissan’s Leaf in some cases, electric car ownership could go a long way towards enabling low-income wage earners to get better education, as well as better access to healthy food and healthcare.

These low-income families would also be able to get to a number of private-sector jobs that, without an EV, would be off-limits to them. That means they’d quickly pay back CARB’s $2500 voucher through increased income, payroll, and sales taxes (as they participate in the economy to a greater degree). Not a bad investment for California at all, if you ask me!

It’s also worth noting that, while this is not the first voucher program CARB has created, it is the first that specifically targets low-income families who would like to reduce their carbon footprint and transportation costs through the benefits electric cars offer, but currently can’t.

Here’s more on the official CARB program in official-sounding law-talk, with more specific numbers explained. Enjoy!
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