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Lawmakers Send Mixed Messages

The state of California has exercised its own policy-making power to help overcome these practical problems: issuing financial incentives for the purchase of low-emission cars, encouraging entrepreneurs and utilities to build out a network of convenient charging stations, and rewarding car makers for filling the market. But political support from the Legislature has been erratic.


w-Income Residents Left Behind

Consumers often like the idea of buying an electric car, at least in theory.  But purchasing still-emerging technology comes at a steep price. A Nissan Leaf runs about $30,000, a Chevrolet Volt about $35,000. That makes mid-sized electrics $5,000-$10,000 more expensive than comparable gasoline models. Tesla’s boutique models are in the “if you have to ask…” category, topping out at more than $137,000.

Sustainability Not Included

Since 2009 California has offered rebates to consumers: $5,000 for hydrogen fuel vehicles, $2,500 for full-battery electric cars, and $1,500 for plug-in hybrids. Added to a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, these incentives have kept the engine of the zero-emission car market ticking over. But the federal incentive is set to phase out in 2019 and the state capped income eligibility at $250,000 a year.


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