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Incentives can Ensure Electric Cars are Affordable for All

Roland Hwang

Posted September 23, 2013

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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.

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AlexSep 23 2013 08:57 PM

Celebrating minuscule sales of electric cars is pathetic. Almost as pathetic as the People's Republic of Kalifornia dictating what is politically correct to drive. Stop it. Please leave the gearheads alone. Killing high performance isn't going to win the enthusiasts over. It may win over the sheep who like being told what to do, but those who won't conform won't go quietly.

ZachSep 23 2013 11:47 PM

Alex, being rude doesn't help you make your point. Kind of undermines it actually.

AlexSep 24 2013 01:28 PM

It would be nice if the car lovers weren't ignored in this discussion. I didn't mean to be rude , just trying to make my point.

Paul ScottSep 24 2013 07:29 PM

@Alex, I don't understand your anger. No one is telling you not to drive anything. All we are doing is providing incentives for people who would prefer to drive a car that doesn't cause harm to others.

You seem to be OK polluting our air, but there are many, especially members of the NRDC, who would prefer not to pollute other's air. Why do you have a problem with that?

AlexSep 25 2013 10:25 AM

I have a problem with environmentalists telling car lovers what is politically correct and what isn't. There are millions of gearheads who want to be left alone, and don't want an electric or hybrid.

Guy HallSep 28 2013 01:18 PM


as Paul said, we are not telling you what car you can drive or not. What we are doing, is Informing the public about the new electric vehicle options available and their advantages (fun, saving money, local jobs, environmentally friendly, convenience, performance, etc.)

Each person makes their own choice based on their situation.

jamie deanOct 3 2013 03:25 PM

i'm glad NRDC is working on electric vehicles and am excited about the opportunities they offer to clean the air for everyone. although i am not yet in the position to buy one, i'm glad others are. as i walk around in my neighborhood (near the freeway) i look forward to the day where there are more EVs and less pollution.

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