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How Californians With Lower Incomes Can Buy or Rent Electric Cars

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Míocar Chief Operations Officer Gloria Huerta (left) and Operations Manager Alberto Rodriguez stand for a portrait by the fleet of cars at one of the charging stations in Stockton, San Joaquin County, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. Míocar is an affordable electric car-sharing service based in Stockton, Richmond and Tulare/Kern County. (Juliana Yamada/KQED)

On most afternoons, Savoeuth Hour drives his gas-powered car to a parking lot near the center of Stockton. He steps out, walks to a line of gleaming electric vehicles hooked up to chargers and taps his smartphone a few times. He gets into one and drives off.

He’ll use this electric car for work, navigating to an Amazon warehouse, filling this vehicle with packages, and then delivering them — he does this through a program allowing people to use their personal cars for deliveries.

Driving the electric car means he doesn’t have to rack up miles on his own Mazda 6. “It saves on gas and helps stop polluting the air,” Hour said. “The driving distance is really far.”

Plus, he likes how the gear shift on the Chevy Bolt EV he rents “is just pressing a button, it’s more modern.” The car is zippier than his own and helps him deliver packages faster.

Savoeuth ‘Jey’ Hour poses for a portrait inside a Míocar in Stockton, California, on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. Hour uses the affordable electric car-sharing service for his job as an Amazon delivery driver. (Juliana Yamada/KQED)

Hour is a member of an electric car-sharing service called Míocar, which targets communities with low income that experience disproportionate health and environmental burdens, like high rates of asthma and air pollution.

While zero-emission car sales made up a quarter of all new vehicles sold in California last year, the transition to clean cars is rolling out unequally across the state.

EVs are less common in rural, lower-income and Black and Latino communities due to upfront costs, a lack of access to chargers and a young secondhand market.


So organizations and the state are targeting these places to level the playing field.

“Transportation is a human right, and everyone should have access to transportation,” said Gloria Huerta, Míocar’s chief operating officer.

Huerta sees her work — decreasing tailpipe emissions in polluted communities — as social justice.

“We let the communities that have historically been left behind have access to resources that normally wouldn’t be given to them,” Huerta said.

Hour displays his Míocar booking in Stockton on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (Juliana Yamada/KQED)

State officials are trying to address this problem through financial incentives to buy cars, funding charging infrastructure and community efforts like Míocar.

“Programs like Míocar are really important for educational purposes, in addition to the fact that folks get to ride in, potentially drive, get a feel for how these vehicles can work,” said Lisa Macumber, a branch chief at the California Air Resources Board who runs state incentive programs for clean cars.

David Reichmuth, an engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists, along with the equity-focused Greenlining Institute, found that about 20% of cars on the road contribute more than 70% of dangerous smog. They’re older cars powered by gas and diesel. Those cars and a greater portion of the pollution they make are more concentrated in communities with low income and places where Latino and Black people live.

“That’s where we can get the biggest impact in terms of both air pollution and climate change,” Reichmuth said. “Getting tailpipes out of low-income communities is the best way to reduce that pollution burden.”

Below are organizations and state programs working to do that.

What California programs can help me buy or rent an EV?


What: Míocar is a nonprofit electric vehicle car-sharing service.

Where: Richmond, Stockton, Tulare and Kern counties, Escalon.

Requirements: 21+, valid driver’s license (this includes AB60 license holders), relatively clean driving record and a valid credit, debit or bank card.

Cost: $4/hour or $35/day, which includes charging, maintenance, insurance and 24-hour roadside assistance.


What: EV-Werx is a membership-based electric car-sharing service.

Where: The southwest and downtown areas of Fresno.

Requirements: 21+, valid driver’s license (this includes AB60 license holders), relatively clean driving record and a valid credit, debit or bank card.

Cost: $4/hour or $35/day, which includes charging, maintenance, insurance and roadside assistance.

BlueLA powered by Blink Mobility

What: BlueLA powered by Blink Mobility is an electric car-sharing company.

Where: 40 locations around Los Angeles, including Westlake, Koreatown, Pico-Union, Downtown, Echo Park, Boyle Heights, and Chinatown.

Requirements: 18+, valid driver’s license and a valid credit or debit card. Proof of low-income qualification for “community” membership, which has lower rates.

Cost: Standard members is $5/month, $0.25/minute + tax. Community members: $1/month for community members, $0.20/minute + tax. Other rate packages here. Free charging at BlueLA powered by Blink Mobility chargers. Includes insurance.

EVs for Everyone | EVs Para Todos

What: EVs for Everyone provides personal advisers who can coach people to find the right vehicle and identify which rebates they can apply for.

Where: Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Requirements: EVs for Everyone prioritizes historically underserved communities.

Access Clean California

What: Access Clean California helps people apply for clean energy benefits, including savings for vehicles and can provide case management to walk through the process.

Where: Statewide.

Requirements: Clients must have low- to moderate income.

Clean Cars 4 All

What: Californians can buy or lease a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV with a state program meant to replace older, highly polluting gas vehicles. People can also use credits to purchase an e-bike or public transit voucher.
Currently available in these five air districts:

The program is set to expand and be offered statewide later this year and includes financing options.

Requirements: Must be income-eligible (making at least 300% of the federal poverty level, which is $93,600 for a family of four in 2024), reside in a participating air district (for now) and have a vehicle to scrap. There may be more specific requirements depending on your air district.

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