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State Offering Incentives To Get Dirty Cars Off Road

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio News

A 1984 pickup truck gets scrapped at a press conference announcing a new pilot program designed to get dirty cars off the road at the state Capitol on Wednesday, May 27, 2015.

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio News

When Jose Mendoza took his 1984 pickup truck to a smog check event in Stockton last February, he heard about a new pilot program. If he scrapped his truck, he could get state money to help him buy a new hybrid. 

"She told me you can get this car, we’ll take that car. I said, here’s the keys!”

Mendoza became the first client for the $5 million pilot program. He and his family took part in the press conference announcing it. And they looked on as his old truck was crushed.

Mary Nichols is Chair of the California Air Resources Board. She says getting a few dirty cars off the road will have a big affect on air quality.

"About 80 percent of the pollution that is experienced in our state today comes from about 25 percent of the vehicles on the road,” she says. "So by going after the most polluting oldest vehicles, we’re doing something benefits the entire community.”

The pilot is limited to the San Joaquin Valley and the Greater Los Angeles area. It will provide money for about 600 cars with revenue from cap-and-trade auctions. 

Mendoza still had to pay about $13,000 for his 2013 Prius. Nichols acknowledges no one will get a car for free. But she says it’s still a good deal.

"This is actually going to end up saving them money once they get past the first cost of the vehicle,” she says, "because they will be saving on gasoline every week.”    

It’s estimated Mendoza will save about $160 a month.