Hybrid and electric cars have grown in popularity over the years, and incentives remain for buying them. 

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is currently offering an income-based car trade campaign. In exchange for a vehicle at least 15 years old and registered in California, the district will give participants $5,000 to $9,500 toward buying or leasing a battery-electric, plug-in hybrid or a hybrid electric vehicle. The actual benefit depends on your household size, income and location. Another option is to take the grant on a Clipper card, which could have up to $7,500 loaded onto it.

For example, a household of three earning less than $63,990 per year could earn $7,500 toward either a plug-in hybrid, plug-in electric and an optional electric vehicle charging station. Qualifying vehicles include a Honda Insight, Ford Fusion, Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt. 

Although hybrid and electric vehicles tend to cost more than the average car, the U.S. Department of Energy expects the costs to decrease as production grows and battery life extends. The district’s program was launched in April and is similar to other versions across California that have been running for years, including those within the South Coast Air Management Quality District and the San Joaquin Valley. 

The applicants can apply until the grant funds run out. The district received a $4 million California Climate Investment, a statewide initiative that gives cap-and-trade dollars to programs reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It received another $4 million from the Volkswagen settlement, in which the EPA deemed Volkswagen had violated the Clean Air Act by making computer software designed to pass federal emission tests. 

All vehicles for trade must be inspected by either Infinity Salvage in Palo Alto or a Pick-N-Pull’s Bay Area location. After a passed inspection, applicants receive an award letter they can redeem at licensed dealers around the Bay Area, including five locations in San Mateo County.

Visit baaqmd.gov to learn more about the eligibility and application process.

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