This Is California: Paying the Rich To Buy State-Approved Cars

California leads the country in electric vehicle sales, but it’s apparently not enough to satisfy the Sacramento meddlers. The same legislator who would outlaw gasoline and diesel automobiles now wants to increase the publicly-funded subsidy that is intended to motivate car buyers to choose EVs.

As if rich Californians couldn’t afford to buy electric cars without taxpayers’ help.

Last year, Californians bought 153,442 EVs, nearly 50,000 more than were bought in 2017 (a 61.7% increase), and almost 140,000 more than were bought in New York, second in EV sales in the U.S., according to EVAdoption. California has by far the nation’s largest market share, with 7.84% of all sales. Washington follows at 4.28%. More EVs were sold in California in 2017, the year before 2018’s big bump, than the other 49 states combined.

As for subsidies, only four states offer bigger tax rebates than California’s $2,500 for buying or leasing an electric vehicle.

But none of this is meeting the expectations of those who demand that an entire state submit to their whims.

Leading the EV campaign is Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Francisco Democrat who hopes to force us into what he misleadingly calls zero-emissions vehicles. He’s not yet been able to pass legislation that would ban conventional cars and trucks by 2040, though he keeps trying. With that goal still outside of his grasp, he’s presently resorting to bribery. Ting has plans “to overhaul the state’s rebate program for zero-emission vehicles by increasing the size of the state’s check to as much as $7,500 . . . in an effort to encourage potential customers to buy the cars sooner rather than later,” reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“If you want to boost the adoption (of ZEVs) here in California, we’re going to have to restructure our incentive program,” Ting said.

But as Ting should be well aware, these rebates are gifts to the wealthy, funded by all taxpayers. PRI’s senior fellow Wayne Winegarden has done the research:

Reviewing the latest figures of tax credits for electric car purchases, 79% were claimed by households with annual incomes greater than $100,000 per year. Combined with households making greater than $50,000 per year, upper-income taxpayers claimed 99% of the tax credits for electric cars.

Subsidizing the virtue-signaling activities of wealthy Californians should not be tolerated. Nor should the habit of lawmakers picking winners and losers in markets. But this is the California we live in.

Should anyone stray outside the narrative and wonder if the overheated effort to rid the state of gasoline and diesel autos is truly necessary, here’s the answer. No. EVs and ZEVs are not climate saviors.

First, there is quite enough doubt in the manmade global warming story to justify a wait-and-see approach. There is no reason to rush out and regulate personal behavior.

Second, nothing California can do will impact the global temperature — which itself is a shaky concept. (Establishing Earth’s temperature, say researchers, is “thermodynamically as well as mathematically an impossibility.”) The state produces only about 1% of total carbon dioxide emissions.

Third, ZEVs are not, as we said, zero-emissions vehicles. In fact, they’re not much cleaner than modern autos with internal-combustion engines.

“Despite claims that ZEVs will reduce air pollution, broad-based adoption of ZEVs will increase air pollution and associated environmental costs relative to new internal combustion vehicles,” says the Manhattan Institute.

This is in part due to the fact “new gasoline-powered cars and trucks today emit very little pollution, and they will emit even less in the future.”

The dominant party in Sacramento isn’t interested in those three points, nor the many others that would undercut lawmakers’ urges to manage lives and parade their virtue as guardians of the environment. The majority’s collective mind is closed, and the tighter it’s shut, the fewer choices the rest of us have.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.


Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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