A new report suggests that a program designed to encourage the purchase of electric cars is primarily being used by the wealthy.
The “Drive Clean” rebate program was first introduced to New York in March of 2017. The initiative was intended to encourage the purchase of electric cars in the state and reduce their carbon footprint.
The rebate offers returns ranging from $500 to $2,000 and depends on the ‘electric only’ mileage of the car. Vehicles above $60,000 only qualify for the minimum rebate of $500 regardless of their all-electric range, but cars with a lower price tag, such as the Tesla Model Y, currently retailing at around $40,000, qualify for the full $2,000 rebate.
The report by StreetsBlog NYC highlights the fact that the wealthiest 30 percent of New York State residents had received more than 62 percent of all electric car rebates, while the lower 50 percent claimed just 21 percent. These numbers show that this program, intended to encourage the purchase of expensive electric vehicles, is, in fact, an aid for the wealthy and not so much the poor.
The map of E-car rebates in New York City closely resembles its income levels. The Upper West Side’s 10023 ZIP code, with its median income of $135,000, counts 91 rebate recipients, and Brooklyn Heights’ 11201 ZIP code, with a median income of $129,000, had a total of 126 rebate recipients. At the same time, Hunts Point’s 10474 ZIP code in the Bronx, where the median income is just $23,000, saw the E-car rebate benefit just two of its residents.
In 2020 Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged the inequality in the distribution of E-car rebates and announced the Clean Personal Mobility Prize, a $25 million program, requesting “innovative and high impact approaches that enable access to clean transportation services for disadvantaged and underserved communities.” However, funding for the program, which hasn’t been implemented yet, has since been cut to $21 million and the exact idea behind it is unclear.
Meanwhile, some experts are doubtful that the promotion of electric vehicles will curb the carbon footprint of the automotive sector. Transportation professor Christian Brand highlighted the fact that mining the raw materials for vehicle batteries, manufacturing them, and producing the electricity needed for them to function generates emissions.
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