Clean vehicle rebates benefit wealthy, white Californians, study finds

Clean vehicle rebates benefit wealthy, white Californians, study finds
Changes in rebate rules are taking place this month. Credit: Marcin Winchary, courtesy of Wikimedia

Have you applied for and received a rebate from California's clean vehicle incentive program? If so, odds are you live in a high-income neighborhood and not one with a majority Hispanic or African American population, according to a study in the latest issue of the Transportation Research Record.

Researchers Dana Rubin and Evelyne St-Louis two recent graduates of the University of California, Berkeley's master's program in city and regional planning, present in the journal their analysis of 98,901 rebates issued to Californians buying or leasing low-emission vehicles from the inception of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project in 2010 through March 2015.

Rubin and St-Louis say that considering the high costs of fuel-efficient electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and fuel cell vehicles, whose sticker prices start at around $20,000, it was not surprising to find that 83 percent of rebate recipients in the period studied reported yearly incomes of more than $100,000.

Income, race-ethnicity, and rebate distribution

While a state law passed in 2014 requires that 10 percent of CVRP funds be allocated to disadvantaged communities, Rubin and St-Louis found that residents of neighborhoods with a majority Hispanic or African American population are less likely to have applied for, and therefore be benefiting from, clean vehicle rebates, even when income is held constant. For example, as the share of Hispanics in census tracts increases by increments of 10 percent, the number of rebates decreases by 0.54 per thousand households.

"Even when income was accounted for, people of color were still less likely to be using those rebates," says St-Louis.

"That's perhaps the problem," says St-Louis. "The CVRP program was funding households that could afford those vehicles anyway. These households may have been slightly incentivized by a rebate, but the marginal difference it could make to them is more narrow than for a lower- or middle-income household."

Targeted marketing

There may be other reasons why communities of color aren't receiving and benefiting from clean vehicle rebates, say Rubin and St-Louis.

"Nonparticipation by low-income people and people of color shows us that barriers prevent these groups from accessing CVRP subsidies. We can surmise that this is partially attributed to the auto industry targeting wealthier areas with marketing campaigns, and also because information and guidance about electric vehicles and subsidy programs is not distributed evenly across all populations," St-Louis says.

"But if the most polluted communities cannot afford clean vehicles, even with government sponsorship, then the potential positive local benefits of this clean technology are missed out on by those who could gain most from them," says Rubin.

Program adjusts income, rebate ruler

As of Nov. 1 2016, CVRP began instituting changes in its income requirements and rebate levels. Rebates for all types of eligible light-duty passenger vehicles increased by $500 for a total of $2,000 more for each rebate, for a range of $3,500 to $7,000. To qualify for the increased rebates, applicants must have household incomes not more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

Residents will not be eligible for rebates if their gross annual income exceeds $150,000 for single tax filers, $204,000 for head of household filers and $300,000 for joint filers. However, the limits do not apply to fuel cell electric vehicles, which represent less than 1 percent of rebate applications.

St-Louis and Rubin say the adjustments are a first step to rectify the program's imbalance in terms of income, race and ethnicity.

"We are relatively optimistic that it will make a difference, at least at the margins, for middle-income folks," says St-Louis. "We need to reconcile the actual impact of policy with principles of racial and class equity. More action needs to be taken in the policy sphere to expand the program to low-income folks, but marketing and advertising strategies are also necessary."

The CVRP aims to encourage California residents to move from driving more polluting vehicles toward zero-emissions cars, and to help the state cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020, as mandated by the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

California is not alone in the clean vehicle rebate field. Other states and countries also have adopted incentive programs to boost the use of clean vehicles.


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More information: Dana Rubin et al. Evaluating the Economic and Social Implications of Participation in Clean Vehicle Rebate Programs, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board (2016). DOI: 10.3141/2598-08
Citation: Clean vehicle rebates benefit wealthy, white Californians, study finds (2016, November 8) retrieved 23 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-11-vehicle-rebates-benefit-wealthy-white.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
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User comments

Nov 08, 2016
I really don't see how they come to that conclusion. It's a much more complicated situation.
Such as:
1) The design of the vehicles. The new vehicles may not be attractive to all demographics. The choices are very limited at the moment.
2) Some cultures may be more hesitant to change. They may not like the new technology.
3) Some of the people may have come from lower income families and aren't likely to buy brand new vehicles because they are careful how they spend their money.

Maybe they should have done some research before making racial claims. I really can't see how any kind of rebate would target some demographic. Would you complain when there's a coupon for an ethnic food product in the Sunday paper?

Nov 08, 2016
Duh! I thought unemployed poor people bought brand new electric vehicles....NOT! What the F#@K do you expect? When is the last time you saw a homeless person driving a Tesla? Then again, with this Boosted inflationary economy, when is the last time you saw a homeless person, period? Not never

Nov 10, 2016
"when is the last time you saw a homeless person, period? Not never"
--------------------------------

I didn't either until Reagan closed the mental hospitals in California. Now they are everywhere.

Nov 10, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
I didn't either until Reagan closed the mental hospitals in California. Now they are everywhere.
WTF?
are you stupid?

are you so blinded by your delusional ideology and beliefs that you can make that claim and still consider yourself honest or having integrity?
Frequently references are made that homelessness as we know it today is rooted in severe HUD cuts in the early 1980s. While policy changes did have a large impact exacerbating the problem, homelessness has been documented in America since 1640
http://www.dceh.o...present/

http://www.medsca...e/481800

Homelessness emerged as a national issue in the 1870s
Kusmer, Kenneth (2002). Down And Out, On the Road: The Homeless in American History

www.pitt.edu/~sup...7461.ppt

Nov 11, 2016
Are you so dumb you do not remember Reagan was governor of California in the 1970s, when he closed the mental hospitals in California?

I suggest you put your anger and little ego away, and grow up.

Nov 11, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
I suggest you put your anger
and i suggest you put away the pot and learn a little about reality
you claimed you didn't see homeless people until reagan closed, etc
I didn't either until Reagan closed the mental hospitals in California. Now they are everywhere
i just proved that you are not only a blatant liar (again)
but that you're so memory is degraded from your freely admitted chronic MJ use
(something you claim you aren't affected by here: http://medicalxpr...ria.html )

that is your own words making you the infantile, puerile, egotistical ignoramus making blatantly false and stupid claims

you claim you want to get rid of "internet snipers" and you don't even know what it means
http://www.urband...20sniper

reported, for lying, being a troll and baiting

Nov 11, 2016
Go here Trumpy, the Liar, and find out for yourself.

http://www.nytime...nted=all

You may apologize at any time.

Do you not understand your emotional problems are turning you into or keeping you as a kook, getting madder and more extreme every week? Your continual attacks are a troubling sign. What's next, burning my house down?

Nov 11, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
find out for yourself.
and apparently you didn't read my links above

tell you what - before you spread your misinformation and blame 1 person for your delusional beliefs, you should consider doing basic research

starting with: historically we have always had "homeless" people. just because you *choose* to not see them doesn't mean they weren't there. you simply ignored them until you have an object of blame
You may apologize at any time
because you blatantly lied and blamed homelessness on Reagan?

ROTFLMFAO

you said you didn't see homeless people till Ronnie closed the mental hospitals (for starters, homeless doesn't mean mentally unstable, you just make that ASSumption)

i said homeless was present
i presented proof that they were
i showed you where they've always been there

so you chose to argue that Ronnie closed the hospitals
WTF?

insane logic - and it wasn't the point
It is your delusion


Nov 11, 2016
@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam cont'd
What's next, burning my house down?
you are the one who makes the threats of physical action for people not agreeing with you or refuting your delusional logic

before you continue with this argument, re-read your own post and what i put
the topic
when is the last time you saw a homeless person, period? Not never
your claim
I didn't either until Reagan closed the mental hospitals in California. Now they are everywhere
your argument that Ron closed the hospitals only shows that your delusion ASSumes all homeless are mentally unstable
it also ASSumes that they "weren't visible" until he closed the hospitals

this is directly refuted by the evidence i linked above

you're changing the subject

you keep fighting this losing battle: i am not going to continue to respond to an illiterate geriatric who can't read because his memory is f*cked from his self-professed chronic abuse (pun intended)

oh, and per your request...

Nov 11, 2016
Yes, I was here when Reagan did it. Go to San Francisco now and see the Reagan Wounded on the streets.

The thread regards electric vehicles. Have one? No? Then, I guess we are back to the same place, aren't we? You read all about it from someone with an opinion, and I have experience.

Outgrow it, Trumpy.

Nov 11, 2016
LOL

@STOLEN VALOR LIAR-kam
I was here when Reagan did it.
you were in the mental hospital when he did it?
well why didn't you just say so!
The thread regards electric vehicles
then why did you derail the conversation with your personal delusion and the ASSumption that Ron is the reason you're homeless and can't live in the nuthouse?

you are the one who started the derailed personal comment with a blatant lie that i just proved, with evidence, is a delusional BS belief

there is no doubt that some of the patients became homeless
however, blaming homelessness solely on Ron is called a delusional regurgitation of political rhetoric
IOW - a blatant lie

so, per your own request...

Nov 11, 2016
I sent you the reference, but you concentrate on attacks, a real symptom of a genuine problem. Is that why you are hiding? From what? From whom?

Your need to punish others is not healthy, and self-destructive, as well.

So far, you have disparaged my service based on your civilian knowledge of how it works. Not having served yourself, you have to attack those who have. Pitiful. No, you will not outgrow it, skunks do not lose their stripes, you will just be a more bitter and bitter old man hiding from everybody in the woods.

Now, can we discuss the phenomenon of electric vehicles?

Please?

Nov 11, 2016
Hey little monkey man
Pitiful. No, you will not outgrow it, skunks do not lose their stripes, you will just be a more bitter and bitter old man hiding from everybody in the woods
He's not sitting around getting stoned every day, lying about all the jobs he lost while living off his wife's money now is he?

Nov 16, 2016
A good first step would be a substantial battery replacement subsidy. What poor or just plain thrifty person would buy a 5-10 yr old electric with a $7k battery replacement on the horizon? Until batteries get far cheaper or far longer lived most electrics will be in the crusher at half the life of a gasoline car, which is a shame, as an e-car could easily be designed to last 40 years/800,000 miles.

Nov 16, 2016
sky, no worry, there is already a market for them, in home energy storage. And how many have you found so far? We hear all the horror stories of what is to come, but not one example. My neighbor's old Prius is still going as it always did.

Nov 16, 2016
Duh! I thought unemployed poor people bought brand new electric vehicles....NOT!

See this line in the article
"Even when income was accounted for, people of color were still less likely to be using those rebates,"

So it's not an issue of rich vs. poor.

Nov 16, 2016
My neighbor's old Prius is still going as it always did.


The old Prius has a nickel battery, which has a far longer lifespan than lithium batteries do. They don't self-degrade.

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