Project at a Glance

Title: Designing light-duty vehicle incentives for low- and moderate-income households

Principal Investigator / Author(s): DeShazo, George

Contractor: UC Los Angeles

Contract Number: 15RD011

Research Program Area: Emissions Monitoring & Control, Climate Change

Topic Areas: Behavioral Change, Environmental Justice, Greenhouse Gas Control, Mobile Sources & Fuels, Sustainable Communities


This study assessed using purchase incentives to promote the retirement of functional, high-emitting vehicles and increase adoption of advanced clean vehicles by low- and moderate-income California households. Additionally, this study examined the vehicle holdings, vehicle purchase decision-making and financing, travel patterns, and barriers to vehicle access by households in the target population. A statewide, representative survey forms the basis of this study. The survey included a vehicle choice experiment of 1,604 low- and moderate-income households. Results show that offering vehicle rebates significantly increases the adoption of conventional hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), with purchase rebates of $2,500, $5,000, and $9,500 increasing the purchase rates by approximately 20 percent, 40 percent, and 60-80 percent respectively across vehicle types compared to no rebate. In contrast, offering guaranteed loans had a small and uneven effect on the propensity to purchase these vehicles. Results indicate that low- and moderate-income Californians value their vehicles, as they have the same number of vehicles as the statewide average, which is two vehicles per household. Furthermore, these households spent almost $14,000 to acquire their last vehicle, which is over half of their yearly income.

For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Research Division staff at (916) 445-0753

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