Until now, the state's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project has largely benefited the wealthy. According to the LA Times, 114,702 people have taken advantage of the program since 2010, totaling $242 million of incentives. However, only 7,056 participants came from low-income areas, and they used just $14.8 million in subsidies. A survey also indicated 23 percent of the recipients had earnings of $99,000 or less. "The state should not be diverting ... taxes on low-income and middle-class families to benefit wealthy drivers," State Senator Bob Huff told the LA Times.
Under the revised policy, individuals bringing home more than $250,000 and couples making over $500,000 can no longer get rebates when buying an EV, but the fuel cell vehicle incentive is available to them. Critics argue those incomes still amount to a tax handout to the rich, though. Conversely, the subsidy is now doubled for households making $60,000 or less to $3,000 for a plug-in hybrid and $4,000 for an EV.
There was initially an attempt to set the income limit at $400,000, but the figure was reportedly opposed by the auto industry. The $500,000 level was reached because it "seemed to exclude people who by anybody's definition in California are rich," California Air Resources Board chairperson Mary Nichols said to the LA Times. In another step to get less wealthy drivers interested, a pilot program is setting up a car-sharing network with 100 plug-in vehicles in parts of Los Angeles.