California May Soon Pay Classic Car Owners To Convert To Electric

Government / 19 Comments

A new bill introduced to the California State Senate could help rid the roads of some grossly inefficient engines.

The 2022 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show embraced electric cars in 2022, and now it is taking its efforts to clean up the automotive industry more seriously by co-sponsoring a bill that would pay Californians for converting combustion-powered cars to electric.

Senate Bill 301 was introduced by California Senator Anthony Portantino, with the aim being to grant residents $2,000 towards retrofitting an electric powertrain into gasoline or diesel vehicles. Portantino and SEMA want to allocate $2 million per year to EV conversions of existing cars, and it's a great idea.

While many Americans, particularly in California, like the idea of switching to an EV, the average price of such a car puts the electric lifestyle beyond reach for the average person. For example, a Tesla Model 3 currently starts at $42,990.


But if you already own an old Ford F-150 that costs you nothing besides maintenance and fueling costs, you can buy the Blue Oval's Eluminator Mustang Mach-E electric motor without a huge initial outlay. This eCrate motor retails for just $4,340 before the potential grant, and then it's just a matter of swapping the smoky old engine out for the electric components.

Although this can cost you a bit if you don't carry the work out yourself, it may still be far more affordable than buying the cheapest new EV in America, which is currently the Chevrolet Bolt EV at $27,800. Of course, if it's not a simple drop-in conversion, switching to electric power can end up costing more than America's cheapest new EV.


"It is essential that we continue to look for new methods and ideas to meet our strong climate goals," said Portantino in a release. "SB 301 will make it much easier for many Californians who have the desire to go green but lack the financial capacity to do so. It will aid conversion by providing a financial rebate for Californians who choose to convert their gas-powered car into an electric vehicle but can't afford to do so. Cutting-edge energy efficiency should not be reserved only for those wealthy enough to afford it."

Interestingly, SEMA says it still "opposes the government choosing winners and losers in the marketplace, including California's 2035 ban on new gas- and diesel-powered cars and trucks." It seems that the organization is lending its support to this bill in the hope that a balance can be found that will allow all sorts of enthusiasts to continue enjoying their cars.


California is a haven for the aftermarket, with numerous builders in the state capable of carrying out work like this. The more popular these builds get, the cheaper they should get. With 15,182 (29%) of all EV charging stations sited in the Golden State, there's no better place to introduce such a proposal.

The bill requires converted vehicles to have a range of at least 100 miles to qualify for the rebate, so choosing the right battery will be critical. California has been the country's clean mobility spearhead, but not everyone will necessarily agree that this is the right way forward, so residents can have their say on SB 301 here.


Join The Discussion



Related Cars

To Top