Incentives can Ensure Electric Cars are Affordable for All

By signing AB8 (Perea) and SB359 (Corbett), Governor Brown has a critical opportunity to make electric cars affordable for all, cut air pollution, and boost the economy.  These bills will extend California’s existing, highly successful rebate program for clean cars and trucks. Accelerating the transition from oil to electricity benefits all Californians through cleaner air, lower fuel bills and more jobs.

Record breaking sales in August confirm that Californians are clamoring for plug-in electric cars. Californians understand from 50 years of environmental leadership that cleaner air, lower energy bills and a stronger economy all go hand-in-hand. As early adopters, Californians also understand that prices of new technology come down rapidly with volumes.  The internet, solar energy, and hybrids all started with the help of government support and now all Californians, and indeed all Americans, are benefiting.

This same success story is being repeated with electric cars.  Prices are falling rapidly. GM and Nissan have reduced their prices by at least $5,000 from their first models, spurring record sales. This year, sales nationally are expected to increase five fold since the electric car debuted in 2011. 

CA Sales chart Aug 2013.png

This early market success bodes well for the future. But it’s important to remember that less than 2 percent of vehicles sold are electric. To meet clean air goals, California’s target is 1.5 million electric cars on the road by 2025

California suffers from the worst air pollution and some of the higher gas prices in the nation, with low-income households the hardest hit. Investing in electric vehicles is a smart investment for the state because it will pay for itself many times over in avoided health care and fuels costs.

According to the American Lung Association, a 100 percent electric fleet running on electricity that is one-third renewable would avoid: $13 billion in health, climate, and other societal damages annually, 10,000 asthma attacks every year, and 275 tons of criteria pollutants every day in California.

And because electricity is equivalent to paying just $1 per gallon of gasoline, electrification will provide a powerful economic stimulus by putting more money in the pockets of drivers and avoiding the need to import oil.  Research conducted by UC Berkeley economists and the California Electric Transportation Coalition shows that electrifying California’s cars and trucks would create creating 16 times more jobs than a dollar spent on gasoline. 

Electric cars are the future.  By breaking our dependency on oil through electric cars will benefit the health and welfare of all Californians.

About the Authors

Roland Hwang

Director, Energy & Transportation program

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