By Kat Schaich

As communities plan for a carbon-free future, transportation is often identified as one of the top sectors where emissions reductions are most needed. Electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as a promising solution to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change. However, there is a pressing need to address the accessibility of EVs for low-income and minority community members, those who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Read on to learn about the barriers to owning an EV and some ways to build a more equitable transportation system for all.

One of the biggest barriers for low-income community members to purchase an EV is the initial cost. Upfront costs for EVs can be more expensive than traditional gasoline vehicles, however, the cost is steadily dropping and federal, state, and utility tax credits and incentives can help offset costs. After incentives, there are new models available for less than $20,000 MSRP. Used models are also available! While the initial cost might be higher it’s also important to consider overall maintenance and fuel costs which are lower than a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Charging Infrastructure
Another challenge faced by low-income community members is the availability of charging infrastructure. The most convenient and affordable method of charging is at home, but many low-income households do not always have access to at-home charging, making it more challenging to own and charge an EV. Compounding this issue, public charging stations are usually concentrated in wealthier areas, leaving low-income communities underserved. To solve this problem, public and private stakeholders must collaborate to establish a more equitable charging network to ensure all EV owners have access to charging.

Outreach and Education
Since EVs are a newer technology and still fairly unique in the market, an important step in making EVs more accessible requires targeted education and outreach programs that increase awareness of EVs. Many residents are simply unaware of the benefits of owning an EV as well as the available funding opportunities. Partnerships with community organizations, workshops, and public awareness campaigns will inform communities about the latest news in funding, incentives, and educational resources related to EVs. These initiatives should help community members feel empowered to choose the most sustainable transportation option for their lifestyle.

Other Mobility Options
Remember, not everyone is going to be ready to make the transition to EVs. Consider some other ways to enhance mobility.

  • E-bikes: E-bikes can be seen as a more cost-effective alternative to EVs which still providing the environmental benefit. This is a great option for those traveling shorter distances.
  • Car Sharing: A carshare program allows users who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle the opportunity to access EVs without the burden of ownership. Explore this article from the New York Times for more information about EV ride share programs.
  • Public Transit: Encouraging the use of buses and trains to provide affordable and environmentally friendly transportation options.

Explore Resources!

  • Federal Tax Credit for New EVs: Depending on the EV, Coloradans could be eligible for even more tax credits when also including the $7,500 federal tax credit for fully electric vehicles.
  • State Tax Credit for New EVs: Beginning on July 1, 2023, the Colorado EV tax credit increases to $5,000 for vehicles with MSRP up to $80,000 and beginning January 1, 2024, EVs under $35,000 MSRP will be eligible for an additional tax credit of $2,500.
  • Used EV Tax Credit: Up to $4,000 or 30% of the sales price, whichever is lower. The sales price must be less than $25,000 and the vehicle must be at least two years old. Income caps also apply. Learn more at ly/UsedEVs-TaxCredit.
  • Colorado Vehicle Exchange Program: Coming Soon! Colorado is establishing the Vehicle Exchange Colorado (VXC) program. VXC will be a statewide rebate program for income-qualified Coloradans to replace old and/or high-emitting vehicles with electric vehicles. The program is anticipated to launch in summer 2023, ly/VehicleExchangeCO.
  • State E-Bike Rebate: A statewide e-bike rebate will be available to low- and moderate-income Coloradans this summer,

About the Author – Kat is a passionate marketing professional with four years of experience in graphic design, content creation, and branding. She has experience supporting a wide range of sectors, including higher education and government institutions, where she’s led graphic design efforts, managed multiple social media channels, and curated blog content.

Kat’s background gives her a unique combination of creative and analytical expertise. Her ability to simplify complex problems or data into compelling and understandable designs is vital in supporting community outreach. She is passionate about using her skills to encourage sustainable behaviors that will make the world a better place for future generations.