Middle-to low-income families will have a greater opportunity to take advantage of clean-vehicle rebates and federal tax credit when buying a zero-emission vehicle under legislation proposed by Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles.

SB 1275 charges California’s Air Resources Board to place an income eligibility cap on the state’s $2,500 rebate on electric cars. That’s in addition to the federal government’s $7,500 tax credit to buyers of electric cars. But electric and hybrid cars remain expensive, leading most of the incentives to go to wealthier residents, according to the Los Angeles Times.

De León wants a more diverse set of households to consider lower-emission vehicles. He cited air pollution and accessibility to cleaner forms of transportation as the main drivers behind SB 1275.

“To clean up our dirty air, we need to make electric cars more accessible for our middle- and low-income families, not just the wealthy,” de León said in a statement. “By increasing targeted rebate, loan and carpooling/van sharing programs, California can lead the way for a cleaner and healthier environment.”

The measure has support from environmental groups and has been passed by the California Senate, the Times reported. It’s up for consideration in the State Assembly Appropriations Committee, and has until the end of the month to get through the Assembly and over to Gov. Jerry Brown.

-- Brian Heaton