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Several states currently offer EV purchase incentives, but a new Vermont program takes things a step further by offering cash to residents who replace a “high-polluting vehicle” with an EV.

Called Replace Your Ride (RYR), the program offers $3,000 to Vermont residents who retire an operational vehicle deemed to be high-polluting that is at least 10 years old, and switch to a new or used EV.

Vermont already has an incentive program for new EVs, as well as a used-vehicle incentive program called MileageSmart, and like those programs, RYR has income eligibility requirements. Applicant must also be Vermont residents listed on the both the EV purchase or lease agreement and the retired vehicle’s registration. Incentives are also limited to one per person for the life of the program.

2010 Ford F-1502010 Ford F-150

The first phase of the program began September 14, offering incentives at the point of sale or lease. A second phase, scheduled to begin November 2, will add a $3,000 voucher for alternative transportation, such as purchasing an electric bike or using “shared mobility options,” according to the state.

RYR is funded with $4.5 million through Vermont’s 2021 and 2022 Transportation Bills. Incentives are available on a first-come, first-served basis until that funding runs out.

Keeping incentive programs funded and dealing with a high volume of applicants can be challenging, as California has shown. But focusing specifically on drivers retiring older internal-combustion vehicles narrows the pool of applicants, while potentially having an outsized effect on emissions by taking the most-polluting vehicles off the road.

2010 Nissan Armada2010 Nissan Armada

California has considered restructuring its incentives toward low-income “gasoline superusers.” Coined by the advocacy group Coltura, this term refers to a small number of drivers that consume a disproportionate amount of fossil fuels. It’s another possible way to target specific vehicles that generate high levels of carbon emissions to maximize the impact of incentives.

If more more states are serious about making EVs a big portion of the driving fleet, Vermont’s lead in tying EV incentives to the retirement of older gasoline and diesel cars might serve as a good template.

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