In 2021, California passed a $30,000,000 program to incentivize the purchase and use of eBikes. As of March, 2023, however, the program is still not active, and it isn't possible (yet) for a buyer to claim the eBike incentive. Here's what we know about the status of the program, based on information from the various agencies and organizations involved.
Who is eligible for California's eBike purchase incentive program?
The program is designed for riders in low income communities and households, who have an annual household income of less than 300% of the Federal poverty level - that's roughly $70,000 for a 3 person household, for example.
What type of discounts are offered in California's eBike purchase incentive program?
Up to $1,000 in incentives may be available for eligible applicants. Additionally, another $250 may be available for Californians living in disadvantaged or low-income communities. Finally, another $750 in incentives is offered on eligible cargo or adaptive eBikes.
A total of $7.5 million in funding is available for this program, of which $5 million is prioritized for low income applicants and those who participate in select public assistance programs, like Section 8 or TANF.
Can eBike buyers apply now?
No. The application period is not yet open. The planned launch is said to be Q2, 2023, although based on the current status that seems optimistic.
How does the application and redemption process work?
- Apply online
- If approved, receive voucher
- Take voucher to authorized retailer in California
- The incentive is deducted from the total sales price
This appears to be an improvement from the proposed Federal EBIKE Act, under which buyers must pay the full price upfront, then claim a credit on their Federal taxes the next year.
Who is in charge of this program?
The program is offered by CARB, the California Air Resources Board. CARB has selected an organization called Pedal Ahead to implement the program, collect applicants, and distribute the incentives.
CalBike, who advocated for the program and has provided status updates, is not involved in the distribution of the actual incentive and does not manage the application process.
What else do I need to know?
The purchase must be of a fully assembled and ready to ride eBike, which strongly implies an in-person purchase. You can find a list of Denago brick and mortar dealers in California on our dealer locator map, and we expect them to participate in the program once details are finalized.
The requirement to deliver a fully assembled eBike may eliminate most online purchases, and to be eligible, an online store must have their bikes offered in a physical brick and mortar store in California, or have a corporate registration based in California, or be manufactured in California. That will eliminate most (although not all) online sellers from eligibility.
What bikes are included?
The incentive is only available on Class I, II, and III eBikes with operable pedals and a motor power limitation of 750 watts, which include integrated lights, are fully assembled, and have at least a 1 year warranty.
To receive the incentive, you must purchase an eBike listed specifically as eligible. We believe that would include:
and might also include:
- Denago Commute 1
- Denago Fat Tire
We have reached out to ensure that Pedal Ahead has our bikes on the list when the program is live. As of this writing, it appears that eBikes not explicitly on their list would not qualify for the incentive, even if they meet all the other required specs.
What bikes are excluded?
Used bikes, conversion kits, "out of class" eBikes that exceed the Class I, II, III speed or motor limits, scooters, mopeds, and bikes intended for off-road use are not eligible. eBikes that lack integrated lights are ineligible.
Should I wait to buy an eBike?
Probably not. While Denago welcomes and encourages eBike incentives, California's eBike purchase incentive program is fairly narrowly designed, and excludes many riders, bike brands, and styles of eBikes. The income limits and geographic limits may further limit the availability of incentives.
While waiting might save a subset of riders some money on their purchase, waiting also means you don't have a bike while waiting! Given the current state of fuel prices and high cost of automobile insurance in California, it makes sense to get on an eBike right away, regardless of possible future purchase discounts.