Could an E-Bike Subsidy Get You a Free E-Bike?
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Could an E-Bike Subsidy Get You a Free E-Bike?

Could an E-Bike Subsidy Get You a Free E-Bike - RebateOpener
  • Several states have incentives or rebates for e-bikes.
  • Many municipalities and other localities have additional incentives on top of what their states offer.
  • The E-BIKE Act is back in the House of Representatives, so there may be a federal e-bike tax credit coming.

I recently wrote about how right now is the best time ever to buy an e-bike. Manufacturers have too much inventory, so they’re slashing prices. Many states and even localities have an e-bike subsidy or tax credit that can make e-bike purchases more affordable, and in some cases may bring the cost down to almost nothing.

E-bikes are an important part of the environmental equation. The Texas Transportation Institute showed that a 3% drop in vehicle miles traveled resulted in a 30% drop in congestion, and across the U.S. almost 50% of car trips are 3 miles or shorter. In fact, 28% of American car trips are less than 1 mile.


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A 2018 study by Portland State University showed that 46% of e-bike commute trips replaced automobile commute trips and 30% of car trips for errands.

Moreover, making e-bikes more affordable to delivery workers, which involves short trips and parking concerns could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Research done by Portland State University showed that if 15% of car trips were instead taken by electric bicycle, we could see a 12% decrease in transportation-related emissions.


The E-BIKE Act

In 2021, Rep. Jimmy Panetta and Congressional Bike Caucus Chairman Earl Blumenauer introduced a Congressional act called the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment, or E-BIKE Act. Unfortunately, that legislation was killed in committee.

But now Representatives Panetta and Blumenauer are joined by Rep. Mike Thompson, Rep. Adam Schiff, and Sen. Brian Schatz to bring the E-BIKE Act to the House of Representatives, and they are trying to get the legislation through. It prioritizes electric bicycles as a zero-carbon mode of transportation by making them more affordable and accessible to all Americans, especially through e-bike subsidies.

Could an E-Bike Subsidy Get You a Free E-Bike - IMG_1481
You can even apply these incentives to full-suspension mountain bikes! That’s yours truly descending some rocks on a Kona Remote 160. E-mountain bikes are a ton of fun! (Photo source: Kona Bicycles from the launch in Spain).

“Many people are looking to get out of their cars and get on to e-bikes not just for recreation, but also for transportation purposes,” said Rep. Panetta. “Although we’re seeing more people on them in our communities, more needs to be done to ensure that everybody across our country has access to an e-bike. With its fully refundable tax incentives for those in the lower economic levels, the E-BIKE Act is a commonsense way to encourage the ownership of e-bikes. By incentivizing Americans to own and use e-bikes, we are allowing them the chance to help improve the quality of life in our communities and tackle the climate crisis in our country.”


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“Transitioning to a clean energy economy includes changing the way we get around. That means transit, rail, electric buses, cars, and bikes. Our bill will make it more affordable for working people to buy an e-bike and help get cars off the road,” said Sen. Schatz, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

The new bill is very similar to the previous bill, offering a refundable 30% tax credit toward the purchase of an e-bike — up to a $1,500 credit for new bicycles that are less than $8,000 — and the credit would be allowed once per individual, every three years, or twice for a joint-return couple buying two electric bicycles. This version adds income caps similar to those of the electric vehicle tax credit caps: an annual salary of $150,000 for single filers, $225,000 for heads of households, and $300,000 for those filing jointly.

If it passes, and you add in some of the state and local e-bike subsidies and incentives, you could drive the cost of an e-bike to practically free, especially in the market right now. But don’t count your e-bike tax credit before it hatches. And don’t wait for it if you don’t have to.

Could an E-Bike Subsidy Get You a Free E-Bike - iGoAdditionalAction
Are you ready for a commuter? There are a ton of choices with a plethora of incentives to get you into one. (Photo by Tony Donaldson)

State-Level Incentives

StateProgram Description
CaliforniaCalifornia has a few incentives right now. The California E-Bike Incentive project is funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). There’s an up to $2,000 at point-of-sale incentives toward the purchase of a new e-bike for people who qualify. The main qualification is households with a qualifying household income of 300% of the federal poverty level or less. CARB isn’t currently taking applications from individuals, only through retailers right now.
ColoradoColorado has a tiered program based on income for anywhere from a $100-$1,100 (up to $1,750 for a cargo bike) rebate, with Denver and Boulder originally offering additional incentives, but those applications are currently closed. 
ConnecticutConnecticut has a limited budget offering a $500 voucher ($1,000 for low-income residents), but so many took advantage of it that the program is out of funds for the remainder of the fiscal year.
HawaiiHawaiian residents can get a rebate of up to $500 or a 20% discount on the cost of a new e-bike or electric moped. Candidates should either not have a vehicle, are signed up for some low-pay help program, or are school, school, or college understudies.
MaineMaine is still waiting on their program, and though it was signed by the governor, it’s still under process.
MarylandMaryland has an e-bike rebate program that is in the early stages of being passed into law. The Governor will allocate $500,000 a year for e-bike rebates in their annual budget. It will take effect in 2025.
MassachusettsMassachusetts, after two years of planning, has set aside $4.5 million to subsidize electric bicycles for low- and moderate-income households. Low-income residents would be eligible to receive a rebate of up to $1,200 or 90% of the cost of a new e-bike. Moderate-income residents can apply for rebates worth $800 or up to 75% of the cost of a new e-bike. 
MichiganMichigan introduced a bill in 2022. It’s still in the works as of this writing. If it’s passed, it will provide residents with up to a 90% discount on the cost of an e-bike, up to $500. For poor residents, it will be up to $1,250.
MinnesotaMinnesota has a $4 million new e-bike incentive to roll out this year and next. Incentives will be based on income level, with the maximum rebate of 75% being available to low-income residents, and any resident earning over $50,000 a year will get a generous 50%.
New JerseyNew Jersey has a bill to earmark $250,000 a year for a rebate program. It was submitted to the state House in 2023. If passed, it would mandate that the Board of Public Utilities create a rebate program for e-bikes to provide up to $2,000 to residents. At around $2 grand a pop, that serves only 125 people in a state that has over 9 million people.
New York
New York tried to pass a bill to expand the “Drive Clean” electric car rebate that would also apply to e-bikes, offering an instant rebate of 50% up to $1,100. Sadly, that was tabled last year. 
OregonOregon has a proposed bill that would offer an e-bike rebate of up to $400 for residents and $1,200 for low-income residents. 
Rhode Island
Rhode Island, one of two holdout states left from the 3-class legislation, does offer a discount/rebate for citizens. The Erika Niedowski Memorial Electric Bicycle Rebate gives a 30% discount on an e-bike or e-cargo bike, not exceeding $350. It provides 75%, up to $750, of the cost of a new e-bike or e-cargo bike for low-income applicants.
VermontVermont has a rebate program through its utility companies that offer rebates of up to $400 on the purchase of e-bikes and up to $800 toward a cargo e-bike. There are income tiers that affect the rebate amount.
VirginiaVirginia has an e-bike bill (HB 748) currently being drafted by the General Assembly’s Division of Legislative Services. It may lay out a statewide e-bike rebate, and as it is written it takes into account a consumer’s income and the type of bike, as with other states there will likely be higher rebates for adaptive and cargo e-bikes.
WashingtonWashington State’s legislature is still working to implement a rebate program to offer a $300 at point of sale for e-bikes in general, but with people earning below a certain income are eligible for up to $1,200 in rebates.
Washington, D.C.The District of Columbia has a new District E-Bike Incentive Program, but applications were only open April 1-15, 2024. Lower-income residents could claim up to $2,000 for a cargo e-bike and $1,500 for a standard e-bike. Higher-income applicants could receive a maximum of $1,000 for a cargo e-bike and $750 for an e-bike. They also offer $250 in annual maintenance for low-income e-bike owners and a rebate for everyone for bike locks and disability components.

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Local Incentives

LocationRebate Information
CaliforniaIn Alameda, California, there’s a rebate of up to $600 depending on the cost of the bike and your level of income. For an e-bike costing up to $999.99, the standard rebate is $100, and income-qualified is $200. On the opposite end, the standard rebate for an e-bike of $2,000 or more is $300, with some income-qualified users receiving $600.

Contra Costa County has e-bike rebates from $150-$500 for residents.

Healdsburg, California, has everything from $50 for an e-bike conversion kit to $700 for low-income customers. I’m not sure what they’re thinking with the conversion kit, because those usually cost well over $1,000 unless you make it yourself.

Santa Cruz has e-bike rebates of $400, or $800 for low-income residents.

Pasadena’s utility company, PWP, offered a $500 rebate on the purchase of a new electric bicycle from a bike shop in Pasadena. They also offered an additional $250 bonus rebate on the purchase of a new cargo or adaptive e-bike. Also, if you’re involved in PWP’s income-qualified bill payment assistance program, you could be eligible for an additional $250. Unfortunately, the program had full participation and is now closed. Keep an eye out to see if they reopen it.

Redding, California, offers a voucher of up to $1,150.

There are too many local programs in California to list in a reasonably-sized article. I suggest that you go to your local bike shop and ask them what e-bike incentives, subsidies, tax credits, etc. are available to you. They should know.
ColoradoDenver, Colorado, has a very successful rebate program that seems to run out every fiscal year. In 2022, consumers redeemed nearly 8,000 e-bike rebates in Denver. The city took a survey in 2022 and found that 71% of respondents were using their gas-powered car less often and e-bikes were replacing over 100,000 vehicle miles every week!
GeorgiaAtlanta, Georgia, is launching a rebate for city residents that is income-based. Most electric bikes will be eligible for a $500-1,500 rebate, with up to $2,000 for an electric cargo bike.
New YorkNew York has various local incentives, including the Citi Bike program in New York City, which offers discounted memberships for e-bike rentals. These are open to NYCHA, JCHA, and HHA residents as well as SNAP recipients, who can get $5 monthly memberships. Direct-purchase incentives are still under development.
OregonEugene, Oregon, customers of EWEB (Eugene Water & Electric Board) may be eligible for a $300 rebate on a new e-bike, with up to two rebates per household. This can potentially be retroactive to any purchase after January 1, 2022.
TexasAustin, Texas, offers a rebate through Austin Energy for e-bike, scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles purchased after Jan. 1, 2023. For regular consumers, a bike from $500-999 earns a $200 rebate, a bike from $1,000-1,999 is eligible for a $400 rebate, and a bike that is $2,000 and up will earn a $600 rebate. For consumers under the Customer Assistance Program (CAP), a bike from $500-999 earns a $300 rebate, a bike from $1,000-1,999 is eligible for a $700 rebate, and a bike that is $2,000 and up will earn a $1,300 rebate. 

This is a somewhat comprehensive list at the time of this writing, but spend a little time checking your local area, both with online searches and checking at your local shop.

Could an E-Bike Subsidy Get You a Free E-Bike. TernGSD
There are even more e-bike subsidies and incentives for cargo bikes, like this Tern GSD, which as you can see can be outfitted as an outstanding grocery-getter. (Photo by Tony Donaldson)

We Need More E-Bikes on the Road

We have a long way to go with all the e-bike subsidy and rebate programs, as well as even a few possible free electric bike programs. If you look at New Jersey’s program that may serve as few as 125 people per year, that’s nowhere near where we need to be. E-bikes are the greenest form of EV transportation out there and with climate change on everyone’s mind, now is the time to get yourself an e-bike and have fun while you’re saving gas and maintenance on your car(s).

Definitely check with your local bike shop(s) to ask about all the e-bike incentives available to you, check your whole region. You may be able to travel a few miles and get an even better deal. And go through the People For Bikes portal to tell your representatives that you want the E-BIKE Act to pass to help get more people on e-bikes!


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IMAGES: KONA BICYCLES, TONY DONALDSON

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AUTHOR: 

TONY DONALDSON

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