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    An Aggressive Boost for Electric Cars

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting

    When we think about the future we want for our children, we don’t picture them breathing dark plumes of polluted air, or witnessing the mass extinction of polar bears and other creatures. Avoiding these prospects requires us to step up our fight against climate change.

    The international community is making progress. Over 150 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement to strengthen the world’s response to climate change. While the President has pulled our country out of it, and Congressional Republicans deny climate change exists, California has a chance to lead by expanding the use of electric vehicles (EVs).

    Transportation accounts for 40 percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It is also a large source of air pollution that disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color. To confront these challenges, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order five years ago aiming to get 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the state’s roads by 2025. Reaching this goal will require a more robust effort.

    For this reason, I am authoring Assembly Bill (AB) 1184 to create the California Electric Vehicle Initiative. The bill has three basic goals:

    • Establishing an incentive program to get everyone behind the wheel of an electric car
    • Getting 5 million EVs on the road by 2030, when half the state’s electricity will come from renewable energy sources
    • Creating a self-sustaining market for EVs.

    If enacted, AB 1184 will provide $3 billion in rebates to EV buyers that are redeemable at car dealerships in order to reduce the car’s sale price immediately. Rebate amounts would be larger initially, and decline over time as the EV industry grows and technology costs come down.

    This bill is modeled after the California Solar Initiative. It was such a success in transforming the solar market that more rooftop solar has been installed since the program ended.

    As technology evolves, car manufacturers have developed more environmentally-friendly vehicles. Over 20 EVs are now on the market in subcompact, hatchback, sedan, luxury, and SUV/minivan models. There has never been a better time to make a bold move to electrify our cars with buyer rebates.

    In California, there are nearly 300,000 electric vehicles on our roads today. Sales have been aided by the state-funded Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, which encourages the purchase of hybrids, electric vehicles, and other types of lower emission vehicles through tax rebates filed with the state. Over 200,000 rebates valued at nearly $440 million have been issued. And, with nearly 75,000 rebates awarded in the Bay Area alone, it’s clear that our region has been a major driver of this transformation to cleaner transportation.

    Despite this progress, vehicle sales have never reached a breakthrough level. Last year, according to the California New Car Dealers Association, Californians bought over 2 million new cars, but only about 74,000 electric cars. This is why we need AB 1184.

    A coalition of clean energy, environmental, and social justice organizations has rallied around the bill. If you would like to help us pass this bill this year, please register your support on our website at www.assembly.ca.gov/ting

    Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City, and parts of South San Francisco.