Are you looking for a new car in California? Now is the time to consider upgrading to an electric vehicle. According to the California Energy Commission, California has the highest level of EV adoption. Gov. Gavin Newsom stated that 1 out of every 4 cars sold in the second quarter of 2023 were zero-emission vehicles. In the United States, 34% of zero-emission vehicles sold are California sales according to Veloz EV Market Report.
This high level of adoption is driven by many county and California EV rebates and investments to increase public EV chargers. Navigating the California EV rebates can be confusing as programs like the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program close and new ones like Clean Cars 4 All become available. In this article, we will look at if an electric vehicle is the better choice, how the California EV rebate works, and list various incentive programs by region.
Why Californians Should Switch to an Electric Vehicle
The majority of electric cars sold in California were priced under $50,000 in 2022 making them more affordable now than they were in the past. Compared to other states, California EV owners enjoy these unique advantages when switching to electric.
Fuel Costs: Gas Vs. Electric
A Consumer Report study found that a typical EV owner who charges at home saves between $800-$1,000 a year compared to an equivalent gasoline-powered car. Californians could save even more, a 2021 analysis by the International Council on Clean Transportation found a typical Los Angeles driver could save up to $8000 over 5 years by switching to an electric car. California drivers who switch to electric can save so much because:
- California gas prices are one of the highest in the United States. GasBuddy predicts that the average cost for West Coast cities could rise above $6 per gallon this year.
- Most smart EV chargers can charge during off-peak hours for cheaper electricity rates.
Reduced Maintenance Cost
A Consumer Report study found that EV owners can save between 30-50% on maintenance costs. This is because electric cars do not have as many moving parts. The simpler mechanical systems, regenerative braking, and steadier power delivery prolongs the components lifespan and reduces the need for replacements. Since traditional fluids gas-powered vehicles rely upon aren’t used, maintenance tasks related to oil changes are eliminated. This doesn’t mean it is entirely maintenance free. Electric vehicles will still need tire rotations, wheel alignments, and the occasional brake pad replacements.
Electric Vehicle Incentives
Besides access to HOV lanes during commute hours, many counties in California offer generous EV incentives. In addition to enjoying up to $7,500 from the Federal EV Tax Credit, you may qualify for different California state or county incentives.
How the California Electric Car Rebate Works
As of November 2023, the biggest California EV rebate program, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, is closed to new applicants. Since its creation, this California rebate program is estimated to have helped the state avoid 9.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by spurring EV adoption. An up-to-date list of state-level and local EV incentives can be found at Driveclean.ca.gov.
Here, we’ve highlighted the requirements for California’s ongoing state-level 2024 EV incentives.
Geared to help lower-income Californians transition to an EV, the Clean Cars 4 All program lets qualifying individuals receive up to $9,500 towards a new or used plug-in hybrid electric, battery elective, or fuel cell electric vehicle. Eligibility depends on the vehicle type chosen and the following criteria:
- Must meet the income eligibility set by the California Air Resources Board. The income limits for 2024 are expected to be similar to 2023 guidelines, ranging from $32,805 – $58,320 for an individual. See if you qualify here.
- Must be a California resident living in participating California districts (South Coast, Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento, and San Diego).
- Own a vehicle registered in your name and in the state of California.
- Must be replacing a vehicle from 2005 or older.
See each participating California district’s Clean Cars 4 All program here.
Pre-Owned Electric Vehicle Rebate Program
Those who have PG&E as an energy provider could qualify for a rebate towards a pre-owned elective vehicle. Those who meet the income-eligibility requirements qualify for a maximum rebate of $4,000. All others who qualify for the rebate are eligible for a maximum rebate of $1,000.
Consumer Assistance Vehicle Retirement Program
Some Californians could qualify for the Consumer Assistance Vehicle Retirement Program. This is a California incentive to encourage drivers to retire operational gas vehicles that failed smog. For each vehicle retired, income-eligible applicants can receive up to $1,500 per retired vehicle. Those who don’t qualify for the $1,500 may be eligible for $1000 to retire their vehicle at a BAR-contracted dismantler.
North Bay Area – MCE EV Instant Rebate
Specific North Bay counties, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, and Solano, are eligible for a $3,500 EV Instant Rebate of a qualified lease or purchase of a new EV or plug-in hybrid. To qualify for this rebate, the following criteria must be met:
- An MCE customer.
- Lease or purchase a qualifying EV or plug-in hybrid from a participating dealership.
- After the purchase or lease date, the EV must be kept for 24 consecutive months.
- Associated address must be the same between your PG&E account and the registered EV with the DMV.
- Enrolled in a program like CalWORKS/TANF, CAPI, Clean Cars 4 All, SSI, or one of the others listed here. If not enrolled in a program, the maximum household income can not exceed a specific amount outlined here.
If you qualify, the rebate will appear as a discount at the point of purchase or lease. For help understanding California and Bay Area EV incentives, join a webinar by Ride and Drive Clean. As a local nonprofit partnered with local cities, sustainability offices, government agencies, and more, Ride and Drive Clean encourages the adoption of electric vehicles in California’s Bay Area through informational resources.
Silicon Valley – Silicon Valley Power Pre-Owned EV Rebate
Customers of Silicon Valley Power enrolled in a Financial Rate Assistance Program may qualify for a rebate of $1,000 or $1,500 towards a pre-owned electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Bonus rebates might be made if you meet the income eligibility requirements and get a used vehicle with an MPGe of 117 or greater. The full list of requirements can be found here.
Southern California – EV Incentives
Replace Your Ride Program
Income-eligible Californians in the South Coast Air Quality Management District, all of Orange County along with urban portions of LA, Riverside, and San Bernadino counties, may qualify for a Replace Your Ride Program Voucher of up to $9,500. This voucher can be used to replace high-polluting 2007 or older vehicles with a new or used hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, fuel cell, or conventional gasoline-powered with 35+ MPG. Before purchasing or leasing a replacement vehicle, a participant must first be issued a Preliminary Purchase Authorization Letter by a Case Manager.
SCE Pre-Owned EV Rebate
Residents in Southern California who are active customers of the Southern California Edison (SCE) may qualify for the SCE Pre-Owned EV Rebate. This program offers two options based on household income level. Income-qualified individuals are eligible for Rebate Plus, a kickback of up to $4000. Everyone else is eligible for $1000 if an application is submitted within 180 days of the purchase or lease of a pre-owned Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) or Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV).
Ready to Make the Switch to Electric?
If you still don’t know making the switch is for you, check out our guide to understanding if an EV is right for you. If you are still searching for your ideal EV or know what your next EV will be, Cartelligent is here to help. We sell vehicles online and are happy to answer any questions you have. Our team also invites you to learn about how buying from us works and review where EV charging stations are located in California!
*EV incentives are set to change again in the future. We will update this information as updates come out.