Incentives for ProgressThe California Air Resources Board (better known as CARB) has approved $27 million for its Air Quality Improvement Program, a statewide effort to provide incentives for the purchase of advanced-technology passenger cars and heavy-duty trucks.
Ten million dollars will go to incentives for hybrid and zero-emission trucks and buses. Another $2 million of funding will be used for advanced-technology demonstration projects supporting the commercialization of new vehicle and equipment technologies to help pave the way for healthier air for California. [...]
ARB will use the majority of those funds for its California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project to provide incentives for the purchase of zero-emission and plug-in hybrid passenger cars. Complementing this investment will be up to an additional $5 million dollars from the California Energy Commission.
This is good news because green vehicles (electric cars and buses, plug in hybrids, etc) often face a chicken & egg kind of problem. We can forecast that at some point they will be much more affordable and perform better thanks to economies of scale and further incremental improvements in technology, and these vehicles will be a lot more practical once there's a big network of fast-charging stations everywhere, but to get to that point, we need early adopters to spend more on the current models.
Targeted incentives can be a great way to jumpstart things and get moving forward until we reach a point where these incentives won't be required anymore. The important thing for these incentives to work is to make them based on results rather than on technologies; don't pick the winners, just reward reaching certain targets (low CO2 emissions, low smog-forming emissions, etc).
Another thing to watch for is rules that encourage "compliance models", ie. automakers that make a few hundred electric cars just to meet regulations. It's much better to give incentives for truly mainstream models that are available to widely and not just a fleet customer or two.