Ridepanda gives prospective LEV riders the info they need to get the best value from their e-bike, e-scooter, or e-moped purchase, and sometimes that can add up to some big savings. But did you know that the government can actually help you save money on your e-ride, too?
It’s true. There are actual subsidies available for electric bikes, scooters, and mopeds in cities across the country. Why? Because an ever-growing number of state governments and organizations in the U.S. are beginning to recognize the necessity of investing in light electric vehicles to decrease emissions and provide residents with more affordable and accessible methods of transportation. Here’s everything you need to know.
Incentive and subsidy programs for LEVs are gaining recognition around the world, and many major European cities, such as Paris and London, are already providing interest-free loans or implementing trade-in programs to incentivize electric bike purchases. For example, Bloomberg reports that Paris not only “launched an unprecedented 10,000-vehicle e-bikeshare program” last year—they also agreed to give residents €500 toward the cost of purchasing a new electric bike.
A study co-conducted by the China Center for Energy and Transportation and UC Davis reports that enabling access to affordable electric bikes would increase ridership significantly. It’s no surprise that Europeans would act on findings like these; in general, cycling as a primary mode of travel is far more common there. But what will it take to get more governments and organizations to fund light electric vehicle ridership here in the U.S?
One selling point: It’s usually in the government’s best interest to subsidize electric bikes, scooters, and mopeds in lieu of other vehicles. For example, a U.K. study reported by Outside shows that, “the cost of saving a kilogram of CO2 via [plans] to boost e-bikes is less than half the cost of existing grants for electric cars and at a cost per purchase of less than one-tenth of the grant for electric cars.” In addition, light electric vehicles are cheaper overall and thus more affordable for both governments and riders.
Luckily, where LEV subsidies are concerned, there have been some promising signs that hearts and minds are changing in the U.S. Here are some of the programs Americans can currently take advantage of.
In California, transportation is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions; it can be blamed for approximately 40 percent of emissions statewide. LEV organizations have been lobbying for years in an effort to get state and local governments to recognize the potential of electric bikes to alleviate the state’s pollution problems. In late 2019, they scored a victory when California’s governor signed SB 400 for the Clean Cars 4 All Program—an amendment that adds electric bikes as a mobility option.
This means that qualifying residents can now receive vouchers worth up to $7,500 when they replace their gas-powered vehicles with electric bikes. Given that many low-income residents cannot afford new cars, and their only options for public transportation can often be unpredictable and unreliable, government funding for such programs will be a tremendous boon in economically depressed areas. For anyone in need of consistent and affordable forms of transportation (and also resides in one of the participating air quality districts) SB 400 is a program to take advantage of. This initiative will encourage a greater number of people to choose environmentally friendly electric vehicles instead of cars, thus improving city living for everyone.
Austin Energy in Austin, TX has offered incentives for electric bikes, scooters, and mopeds since 2007 and, according to the Transportation Research and Education Center, “the program has seen relatively high levels of participation.” Dubbed the Austin Electric Ride Program, it offers a variable flat rate dependent on the price of the electric vehicle. “For example, an e-bike under $500 would receive a $50 rebate.” This offer proved compelling to many Austinites and has since attracted many new LEV riders looking to start riding for less money.
Over in the Green Mountain State, the Burlington Electric Department relies on the Vermont state statute 30 V.S.A. § 8005 to calculate an incentive for its LEV riders. According to The Transportation Research and Education Center, the “savings created from the use of an e-bike [are] mostly passed on to the customer through a $200 e-bike purchase incentive.” It’s important to note that an electric bike in Vermont replaces “approximately 10,000 automobile vehicle miles traveled over its 8-year life span.” This illustrates just how sizable an impact citizens could make on carbon emissions if they began to adopt electric vehicles en masse.
Even on smaller scales, cities and advocacy groups are working together to establish e-bike incentive and safety programs. For example, Bike San Gabriel Valley was awarded $70,000 by the City of El Monte, CA, in a competitive grant process created to kick off an e-bike subsidy program. Revenue from toll lanes helped pay for this initiative, which offers bicycle safety classes and educates residents on the benefits of e-bikes. Unsurprisingly, programs such as these have begun to pop up in numerous cities across the U.S.
As electric bike, scooter, and moped subsidies become the norm in major U.S. cities, millions of Americans who would not otherwise be financially able to consider light electric vehicles as a viable form of transportation are now finding ways to ride.
Research shows that the current subsidy programs have successful participation and, as electric vehicles become even more mainstream, we’ll likely see a continued positive environmental impact in our cities. The fact that Denver, Tampa, and San Francisco have classified e-scooter businesses as essential says it all: American communities value the potential of light electric vehicles and any effort to expand access to them is a cause worth supporting.
If you’re considering investing in an e-bike, e-moped or e-scooter, we’re ready to help you find the right ride for you at Ridepanda—the only one-stop, curated shop for high-quality e-bikes, e-mopeds, and e-scooters with flexible financing.