Thought Leadership

New Documentation Released to Help Inform Assessment of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project


By Center for Sustainable Energy

January 11, 2019

The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), administered by CSE on behalf of the California Air Resources Board, provides consumer rebates for the purchase or lease of new electric cars and motorcycles. These incentives play a crucial role in California’s goal to have 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025 and 5 million ZEVs by 2030.

CSE and CVRP have now released documentation designed to help inform assessments of CVRP’s impact by providing information about rebate amounts and program waitlists over time.

Since CVRP began in 2010, six different rebate structures have been employed with amounts that vary according to applicant income, vehicle range and technology type. The most notable change occurred in 2016, when CVRP implemented increased rebates for lower-income individuals and an income cap for applicants. Since the most recent changes were made, nearly $34 million—or over 14% of CVRP funds—have been distributed to lower-income consumers.

Funding availability has also varied over time, with five waitlist periods since the program’s start. Waitlist periods occur when the program’s available funding has been distributed prior to the end of a funding cycle. In 2017, CVRP adjusted rebate reservations to ensure that lower-income applicants continue to receive rebates during waitlist periods.

As policymakers, academics, automakers and other stakeholders look to California, better understanding the impact of CVRP’s consumer incentives will remain important. This new documentation is designed to help them do so.