Buying an electric car or plug-in hybrid requires a bit of math. Sure, the MSRP will be higher than a car with only a gas-powered engine, but you have to take into account the differences in fuel costs and consumption (electricity will be cheaper, but calculating how much is tough) as well as available government rebates. The federal government offers a $7,500 tax refund for the purchase or lease of an electric car and many plug-in hybrids, but even that’s complicated. First, you have to pay enough tax to get that refund. Second, you have to buy something other than a Tesla or Chevrolet since those brands have long-since exceeded a sales quota the refund is applied too. And third, even if you’ve cleared hurdles one and two, you’ll have to wait until the next tax season to see that money.
California’s new $1,500 electric rebate is intended to alleviate all three of those hurdles. It applies to everyone and all brands, and you get it immediately. It is also applied on top of the state’s own tax refund as well as the federal refund, if applicable. The reduction is taken off the price of the car at the point of sale by the dealer and the buyer doesn’t need to do any paperwork after the fact.
This “point-of-sale price reduction” went into effect yesterday (November 17) and is intended to help in California’s requirement of 100% zero-emissions cars by 2035. While every EV gets the full $1,500, the amount given to plug-in hybrids depends on their battery size. For instance, a Chrysler Pacifica gets the whole shebang, but a Toyota Prius Prime gets only $900.11. Yes, 11 cents. Most others are in the $1,100 or $1,300 range. You can find a complete list of EVs and PHEVs, and their “reward amounts” on the CleanFuelReward.org.