Report identifies benefit of new state level incentive programs to spur growth of clean vehicle market

CALSTART has released a white paper highlighting the emerging opportunity to create a state- and regionally-supported national network of voucher-based incentives to speed clean commercial vehicles sales, even in the face of federal budget reductions. 

"Clean Tech Vouchers: An Effective Tool for All Regions" highlights the value and effectiveness of point-of-purchase "vouchers" as the best tools to spur sales of clean commercial vehicles. It presents a case study from the first state to use vouchers and why they are the preferred tool of fleet users and manufacturers. It then describes how multiple regions nation-wide are now expanding on this model by constructing their own voucher programs using innovative funding from state and existing federal sources.

"This report demonstrates the importance of state and regional action to spur the use of cleaner vehicles," said CALSTART President and CEO John Boesel. "In the absence of federal incentives for commercial vehicles, these smart state and regional programs can keep the U.S. moving forward on clean tech and alternative fuel deployments."

Presently, consumers can receive federal tax credits for the purchase of alternative fuel passenger cars, but there are no federal incentives for the purchase of clean fuel trucks, buses, or non-road vehicles. Yet a commercial vehicle, such as a beverage delivery, refuse or regional haul truck, consume much more fuel per vehicle per day than does a passenger car – and using clean technologies can cut more fuel use and reduce emissions much more on a per vehicle basis, as well.

Incentives play a particularly important role in the early market for clean commercial vehicles because they are still produced in low volume and have higher prices than conventional ones. 

Vouchers are different than standard incentives in that they provide funding at the time of purchase, directly lowering costs to the purchaser, and are simpler to request and process than grant funds or tax credits. Commercial fleet operators are often unable to fully account for the benefit of tax credits and operate on fixed budgets. A voucher, a point-of-sale reduction in price, is far more helpful than a tax credit, particularly when it comes to fleet purchasing decisions.

California was the first state to test purchase vouchers for clean vehicles; New York, Maryland and now Chicago have or will soon structure their own programs. In addition to using state funds, some regions are also using existing federal transportation program dollars to support clean vehicle deployment. 

"While there is no one way to fund or set up these programs there is a good model now in place regions can use," noted Boesel. "Given the national marketplace, and the lack of federal action, it is imperative that we encourage as many regions as possible to build out this clean vehicle support network, for energy security, job growth and cleaner air. Governors and Mayors are seeing the opportunity and starting to move ahead."

CALSTART recommends that vouchers be open to all clean fuels and technologies, including natural gas, propane, hybrid, electric and other technologies. It is encouraging fleets and industry to join with it to work with and help regions interested in speeding clean vehicle use to develop their own programs. CALSTART is available to help provide information to interested regions on how to structure a voucher program.