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Californians Won’t Tax Rich People to Help Make EVs Affordable

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Image: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

It looks as if the state of California is going to have to find another route to making EVs more affordable. Residents across the state voted down Proposition 30, which would’ve increased income taxes on anyone making over $2 million so EVs could be more affordable for lower-income residents.

Here’s how it would have worked. Residents making over $2 million would have seen their income tax increase by 1.75 percent. That tax revenue in turn would have gone to EV subsidy programs that would have made EVs more affordable for buyers, namely low-income residents. Estimates said that it would have raised some $100 billion over a 20-year period with $3 billion to $5 billion raised annually.

EV subsidies aren’t all it would have been, however; the subsidies were projected to be 45 percent of the funds raised. It would have funded new charging stations with 35 percent going for new station construction; another 20 percent would have gone to state wildfire prevention programs.

Initially, the proposition was popular. Summer polls showed two-thirds of state residents in support of it. But this whole election cycle has shown that you shouldn’t always trust polls. Things shifted when critics came out against the proposition, the biggest of which was Governor Gavin Newsom. In a surprising move, he aligned with state Republicans, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Teacher Association in coming out against prop 30. The reason? Ride-share companies.

Newsom called prop 30 a handout funded by the public for Uber and Lyft. The ride-sharing companies are under a state regulated deadline requiring that 90 percent of their drivers miles be zero emission by the end of the decade. Because of this Lyft dumped $48 million into pushing the proposition. Ultimately though the prop failed. As of November 9, 59 percent of California had voted against it.

Some experts are concerned about what this means for similar initiatives across the country. The main concern is EV affordability for low-income residents. As EV prices continue to increase it looks as if more and more low-income people will be left behind in the EV transition simply because they can’t afford the purchase.

And even with subsidies, as Vox pointed out, “EVs may not be affordable enough for most until manufacturers drop prices much further.” Some may argue that manufacturers should just make EVs cheaper, but that’s hard for them to do as their manufacturing costs rise. Some have already admitted that cheap EVs are a long way off. Others may think that the government shouldn’t be subsiding people’s car purchases. As we get closer to gas vehicle bans, one thing is clear: this whole EV transition is turning out to be a lot harder than many thought it would be.

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