Clean vehicle rebate project test begins

A Tesla charges at one of the electric vehicle charging stations in The Orchards shopping center in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016/Kristopher Skinner

Starting in San Diego County this week, The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) is rolling out Rebate Now, a pre-approved rebate program that makes it easier and faster for California residents to lease or purchase electric vehicles. If the local rebate test proves successful, it will be applied statewide.

San Diego’s diverse communities and car buying options make it an ideal test ground for this new approach to issuing incentives, according to officials at the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), administrators of CVRP for the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Car shoppers are now able to apply online and use Rebate Now at participating dealerships. This preapproved rebate provides a discount on the sale or lease of an eligible model.

CARB officials anticipate Rebate Now will encourage electric vehicle (EV) sales and increase project participation by reducing upfront costs, particularly among lower-income consumers. Complete program details and applications are available online at

Since 2009, CVRP has issued Californians more than $480 million in rebates for more than 218,000 eligible EVs. According to CSE, during the first five years of the rebate program, roughly 75% of eligible purchases and leases were rebated.

Car shoppers in San Diego can now get preapproved before they purchase or lease an EV and then transfer the rebate amount directly to the dealership rather than applying for the rebate after the transaction. In just a few simple steps, the car dealership can claim the transferred rebate and use it to lower the customer’s down payment.

—Lawrence Goldenhersh, CSE president

Rebates range from $900 for zero-emission motorcycles to between $1,500 and $5,000 for passenger cars. Rebates cover various models of zero-emission vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles. An additional $2,000 is available for qualified lower-income residents.

Customers must apply for a pre-approved rebate before they buy or lease their EV from a dealership. The application qualifies them for a rebate, but does not require they select a specific make or model before car shopping. After CVRP preapproves their application, they can visit a participating auto dealership and use their preapproved rebate to purchase or lease an eligible vehicle. It only takes a few minutes for the dealership sales staff to qualify the rebate application.

Pre-approved car shoppers can choose to claim the rebate themselves rather than through the dealership, however, they must complete a two-step application process and all other program requirements.

CVRP’s electric vehicle incentives are part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts cap-and-trade funds to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates financial incentives for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution.

California Climate Investment projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and more. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

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