Revival of Climate Legislation Upends Electric Vehicle Pricing

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Revival of Climate Legislation Upends Electric Vehicle Pricing

Like a zombie from the grave, the husk of President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation is on the table again thanks to an abrupt about face from Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The bill, which is now being called the Inflation Reduction Act, has yet to be codified into law and still has to clear several political hurdles, but getting Manchin was by far the biggest.

If the act passes, it would include numerous changes to the electric vehicle buying rebate system, which will impact which EVs and which buyers are eligible for the cashback. There’s a lot to unpack here (the full draft of the bill can be read here[PDF]), but here are the biggest takeaways:

1.The total amount available for rebate remains $7,500, but now it comes in the form of cash back at the time of purchase instead of a tax return.

2.Rebates will only be available to people below a certain income threshold. The rebates will not be available to individuals who make more than $150,000/yr or to households making more than $300,000/yr.

3.The rebates only apply to vehicles below a certain price threshold. Cars priced above $55,000 will not qualify. Neither will trucks, vans, and SUVs over $80,000.

4.The rebate will only apply to vehicles that are primarily assembled in North America. Primarily is the key word here, and things quickly get complicated. Different percentage thresholds will apply for different mineral and battery components. To start, at least 40% of the minerals used in the vehicle and 50% of the battery components must come from North America, but these percentages increase every year. If the vehicle passes either the battery threshold test or the mineral threshold test, but not both, buyers may still be eligible for half of the total rebate ($3,750).

5.Manufacturer caps eliminated. Under the previous system manufacturers could only offer rebates on their first 200,000 EV sales. Only Tesla, Toyota, and GM have reached the cap so far, but Ford and Nissan are also getting close.

6.The act introduces a used vehicle credit, which offers buyers a tax credit equal to 30% of the purchase cost of a used EV up to $4,000, and only applies to used vehicles that are sold for less than $25,000 and more than two years old. (There are a handful of limitations here. Outlined on pages 388-391.)

7.The new credit system would not take effect until January 1, 2023. If you buy an EV before the bill is signed, you’re eligible for the current rebate system even if the vehicle isn’t delivered until 2023. Any existing contracts under the current system will remain valid.

Yes, but what does it all mean?

“I think they’re mostly steps in the right direction, at least with the EV subsidies part,” said John Helveston, a researcher at George Washington University, who studies electric vehicle pricing incentives.

Overall, the proposed legislation takes quite a few strides toward making EVs more affordable and easier to sell. The introduction of the used vehicle credit, especially, may expand the EV market to a much wider swath of the middle class.

“The used [car] market is more than twice as big,” says Helveston. “If there’s 17 million new cars, there's like 40 million used cars sold every year. And the only way you're going to get EVs in the hands of people who aren't super rich is through that used market.”

Restricting the used vehicle credit to sales under $25,000 is a strange choice. It makes sense that legislators don’t want this being used as a loophole for luxury car sales, but a 2-year-old Tesla Model 3 would easily sell above $25,000. A limit of $40,000 or $50,000, might have a broader impact as used EVs will soon hover around that price point

Removing the 200,000 manufacturer cap is also huge, as it swaps a stick for a carrot. Now the best best-selling EVs are again eligible for the rebates, instead of being punished for their success.

It's also easy to see that there are a bunch of provisions aimed at making sure the money goes to people who actually need it. Capping the price of eligible vehicles and setting buyer income limits means that rebates won’t go to ultra-luxury cars being purchased by people who hardly need the help. Transitioning the rebate from a tax return to cashback at the time of purchase may also be a boon to the middle class, as I’ve written about previously here. “If you're cutting out the high-end buyer, based on income or the high price of the car, that's fine,” Helveston told dot.LA. “Those people will probably buy it anyway for other reasons, because they like it.”

The last big theme in the reworked legislation plan is the emphasis on North American assembly. Setting thresholds that increase over time prioritizes manufacturers who have plants on this continent, while acting as a deterrent for foreign model purchases.

This is probably the biggest variable in terms of creating winners and losers on the manufacturing side, and it’s hard to say at this point if this will accelerate North American EV development, or dissuading all but the very wealthy from importing foreign cars. Either way it’s clearly aimed at protecting and growing American business. Notably, almost every major foreign manufacturer already has plants somewhere in North America, so this may be as protectionist as it initially appears.

Who are the winners?

Tesla, GM, and Chevy.

Lifting the manufacturer cap means that Tesla and GM are big winners here. Not all of their cars will qualify, but many will.

The base model Ford F-150 Lightning should also qualify. Chevy is a winner because the 2023 Bolt starts at $27,200 MSRP, meaning the car drops below the 20k threshold after rebate. That’s pretty good. The upcoming Chevy Blazer, Equinox, and Silverado will also all meet the manufacturing requirements, at least.

Who are the losers?

Volkswagen, Polestar, Kia, and Hyundai. Cars from these manufacturers won’t qualify unless/until they move assembly to North America. Volkswagen and Hyundai are planning to open US assembly plants, but they may not come online for months or even years, which would put the companies at a disadvantage in the short term. Kia and Hyundai do have U.S. manufacturing plants, but they’re not currently configured to produce EVs.

What’s up with the SoCal companies?

Rivian should be largely unaffected. Both the base model R1S and R1T sneak in below the $80k cap, and both models are assembled in North America. Higher spec versions of the vehicles will exceed the threshold, though. The company was also nowhere near the 200,000 vehicle cap.

Mullen Automotive has yet to make a car, but its first offering, the DragonFly, will exceed the price caps substantially. For the future though, the company says it’s pleased with the language of the legislation. “[O]ur Mullen FIVE EV Crossover will most definitely qualify. This will be 100% built in the U.S. at our Tunica MS plant or another US plant that might be coming up for us,” says Jason Putnam, VP of Marketing at Mullen. “[O]ur EV Cargo VAN might also qualify. We are also in a good spot right now on the battery requirements for US material percentage.”

Faraday Future also does not yet have a car available for purchase, but its first proposed models, the FF91, will likely cost well north of $100,000, meaning the rebates won’t apply despite the company building their vehicles in Hanford, CA. It’s also unclear where their batteries are being sourced from and what their mineral supply chain looks like.

What to watch

First and foremost, the legislation hasn’t passed yet, so keep checking in here for the latest details. It will also be interesting to see if manufacturers raise their prices significantly if the bill passes. And what recourse–if any–will consumers have against such a hike? Will the price caps put pressure on manufacturers to hit the $54,999 and $79,999 mark?

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Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable
Evan Xie

The original dream of streaming was all of the content you love, easily accessible on your TV or computer at any time, at a reasonable price. Sadly, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have come together over the last decade or so to recognize that this isn’t really economically viable. Instead, the streaming marketplace is slowly transforming into something approximating Cable Television But Online.

It’s very expensive to make the kinds of shows that generate the kind of enthusiasm and excitement from global audiences that drives the growth of streaming platforms. For every international hit like “Squid Game” or “Money Heist,” Netflix produced dozens of other shows whose titles you have definitely forgotten about.

The marketplace for new TV has become so massively competitive, and the streaming landscape so oversaturated, even relatively popular shows with passionate fanbases that generate real enthusiasm and acclaim from critics often struggle to survive. Disney+ canceled Luscasfilm’s “Willow” after just one season this week, despite being based on a hit Ron Howard film and receiving an 83% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon dropped the mystery drama “Three Pines” after one season as well this week, which starred Alfred Molina, also received positive reviews, and is based on a popular series of detective novels.

Even the new season of “The Mandalorian” is off to a sluggish start compared to its previous two Disney+ seasons, and Pedro Pascal is basically the most popular person in America right now.

Now that major players like Netflix, Disney+, and WB Discovery’s HBO Max have entered most of the big international markets, and bombarded consumers there with marketing and promotional efforts, onboarding of new subscribers inevitably has slowed. Combine that with inflation and other economic concerns, and you have a recipe for austerity and belt-tightening among the big streamers that’s virtually guaranteed to turn the smorgasbord of Peak TV into a more conservative a la carte offering. Lots of stuff you like, sure, but in smaller portions.

While Netflix once made its famed billion-dollar mega-deals with top-name creators, now it balks when writer/director Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday”) asks for $150 million to pay her cast of A-list actors. Her latest romantic comedy will likely move over to Warner Bros., which can open the film in theaters and hopefully recoup Scarlett Johansson and Michael Fassbender’s salaries rather than just spending the money and hoping it lingers longer in the public consciousness than “The Gray Man.”

CNET did the math last month and determined that it’s still cheaper to choose a few subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime over a conventional cable TV package by an average of about $30 per month (provided you don’t include the cost of internet service itself). But that means picking and choosing your favorite platforms, as once you start adding all the major offerings out there, the prices add up quickly. (And those are just the biggest services from major Hollywood studios and media companies, let alone smaller, more specialized offerings.) Any kind of cable replacement or live TV streaming platform makes the cost essentially comparable to an old-school cable TV package, around $100 a month or more.

So called FAST, or Free Ad-supported Streaming TV services, have become a popular alternative to paid streaming platforms, with Fox’s Tubi making its first-ever appearance on Nielsen’s monthly platform rankings just last month. (It’s now more popular than the first FAST service to appear on the chart, Paramount Global’s Pluto TV.) According to Nielsen, Tubi now accounts for around 1% of all TV viewing in the US, and its model of 24/7 themed channels supported by semi-frequent ad breaks couldn’t resemble cable television anymore if it tried.

Services like Tubi and Pluto stand to benefit significantly from the new streaming paradigm, and not just from fatigued consumers tired of paying for more content. Cast-off shows and films from bigger streamers like HBO Max often find their way to ad-supported platforms, where they can start bringing in revenue for their original studios and producers. The infamous HBO Max shows like “The Nevers” and “Westworld” that WBD controversially pulled from the HBO Max service can now be found on Tubi or The Roku Channel.

HBO Max’s recently-canceled reality dating series “FBoy Island” has also found a new home, but it’s not on any streaming platform. Season 3 will air on TV’s The CW, along with a new spinoff series called (wait for it) “FGirl Island.” So in at least some ways, “30 Rock” was right: technology really IS cyclical.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base
Evan Xie

This is the web version of dot.LA’s daily newsletter. Sign up to get the latest news on Southern California’s tech, startup and venture capital scene.

Another day, another update in the unending saga that is the potential TikTok ban.

The latest: separate from the various bills proposing a ban, the Biden administration has been in talks with TikTok since September to try and find a solution. Now, having thrown its support behind Senator MarkWarner’s bill, the White House is demanding TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sell its stakes in the company to avoid a ban. This would be a major blow to the business, as TikTok alone is worth between $40 billion and $50 billion—a significant portion of ByteDance’s $220 billion value.

Clearly, TikTok faces an uphill battle as its CEO Shou Zi Chew prepares to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week. But other social media companies are likely looking forward to seeing their primary competitor go—and are positioning themselves as the best replacement for migrating users.


Last year, The Washington Post reported that Meta paid a consulting firm to plant negative stories about TikTok. Now, Meta is reaping the benefits of TikTok’s downfall, with its shares rising 3% after the White House told TikTok to leave ByteDance. But this initial boost means nothing if the company can’t entice creators and viewers to Instagram and Facebook. And it doesn’t look promising in that regard.

Having waffled between pushing its short-form videos, called Reels, and de-prioritizing them in the algorithm, Instagram announced last week that it would no longer offer monetary bonuses to creators making Reels. This might be because of TikTok’s imminent ban. After all, the program was initially meant to convince TikTok creators to use Instagram—an issue that won’t be as pressing if TikTok users have no choice but to find another platform.


Alternatively, Snap is doing the opposite and luring creators with an ad revenue-sharing program. First launched in 2022, creators are now actively boasting about big earnings from the program, which provides 50% of ad revenue from videos. Snapchat is clearly still trying to win over users with new tech like its OpenAI chatbot, which it launched last month. But it's best bet to woo the TikTok crowd is through its new Sounds features, which suggest audio for different lenses and will match montage videos to a song’s rhythm. Audio clips are crucial to TikTok’s platform, so focusing on integrating songs into content will likely appeal to users looking to recreate that experience.


With its short-form ad revenue-sharing program, YouTube Shorts has already lured over TikTok creators. It's even gotten major stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift to promote music on Shorts. This is likely where YouTube has the best bet of taking TikTok’s audience. Since TikTok has become deeply intertwined with the music industry, Shorts might be primed to take its spot. And with its new feature that creates compiles all the videos using a specific song, Shorts is likely hoping to capture musicians looking to promote their work.


The most blatant attempt at seducing TikTok users, however, comes from Triller, which launched a portal for people to move their videos from TikTok to its platform. It’s simple, but likely the most effective tactic—and one that other short-form video platforms should try to replicate. With TikTok users worried about losing their backlog of content, this not only lets users archive but also bolsters Triller’s content offerings. The problem, of course, is that Triller isn’t nearly as well known as the other platforms also trying to capture TikTok users. Still, those who are in the know will likely find this option easier than manually re-uploading content to other sites.

It's likely that many of these platforms will see a momentary boost if the TikTok ban goes through. But all of these companies need to ensure that users coming from TikTok actually stay on their platforms. Considering that they have already been upended by one newcomer when TikTok took over, there’s good reason to believe that a new app could come in and swoop up TikTok’s user base. As of right now, it's unclear who will come out on top. But the true loser is the user who has to adhere to the everyday whims of each of these platforms.

We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said
Evan Xie

According to Pew Research data, 27% of Americans interact with AI on a daily basis. With the launch of Open AI’s latest language model GPT-4, we asked our readers how they use AI in a professional capacity. Here’s what they told us:

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