Q. Can I afford one? What incentives are available?
A. EVs are often as affordable as, or even more affordable than, conventional vehicles because of federal, state, and local incentives.
Visit the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project Savings Calculator and Electric for All's list of incentives (the two sites share slightly different information) to see which discounts you’re eligible for.
If you have a lower-than-average household income and drive a vehicle from 2012 or before, you’re also a good candidate for the Replace Your Ride program. (There is no more funding for this program until at least August 2021.)
Depending on the EV you purchase (it has to be new, and some cars are no longer eligible), you might also qualify for a significant tax credit.
There are additional incentives to help pay for a charger. See more below!
Q. Do I have to get a new car to get the incentives?
A. Some of the biggest incentives (the federal tax credit, which is up to $7,500, and California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, for $2,000 or $4,500, depending on your income) are only for new vehicles, as is the California Clean Fuel Reward ($1,500). But there are incentives for used vehicles! LADWP’s Used Electric Vehicle Rebate Program ONLY applies to used vehicles. And the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program, with funding of $5,000 for people whose incomes qualify, applies to both new and used vehicles.
You live in a two-person household with an annual income of $35,000. You buy a 2016 Fiat 500e for $7,000. You’re eligible for the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program ($5,000), and LADWP’s Used Electric Vehicle Rebate Program ($1,500). You’ve gotten yourself a virtually free vehicle!
Check out the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project Savings Calculator to see what we're talking about!
The Clean Vehicle Assistance Program can also help you get a fair-interest loan and a charger.
Q. What if my income is too high to qualify for incentives?
A. Many incentives are available regardless of income. That includes the federal tax credit, $2,000 of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, and the LADWP rebate for installing home chargers.
You live in a household of four people with an annual income of $100,000 and want to buy a 2020 Nissan Leaf for $32,000. You are eligible for $2,000 from the California's Clean Vehicle Rebate and up to a $7,500 tax credit.
Some helpful resources about the tax credit are here and here.
Q. What about leasing?
A. All the incentives are the same whether you buy or lease, with the exception that when you lease, the dealership takes the entire $7,500 tax credit and can pass it directly onto you so that you do not have to wait until you do your taxes or risk not getting the (full) credit if you don't owe $7,500. Learn more here and here. (When Lisa leased her Fiat 500e, the cost of the car was reduced by the full amount of the tax credit.)
Check out this funky $3,000 incentive to lease a Chevy Bolt for Costo members!
Leasing can be beneficial because the technology is rapidly improving and EVs depreciate more quickly than conventional cars do.
Have you ever thought about leasing a used EV? Learn about leasing used vehicles here.
Q. Do I need to pay the full cost upfront, and get the credits later?
A. With rebates, you do have to pay in advance and get refunded later. But, if you lease, you should be able to get the full $7,500 tax credit upfront, and the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program offers a grant of $5,000 to those who are income-qualified that you do NOT need to pay upfront, and that also helps cover charging.
Q. Isn’t it risky to get used EVs because the battery won’t last?
A. Not really. While you should certainly check out the state of the battery (and the warranty!!) on any vehicle you’re thinking about purchasing, used EVs are priced with that depreciation in mind. Learn more about the pros and cons of buying a used EV here.
Q. What about other costs?
A. EVs can be less expensive than gas-powered vehicles because:
1) you don't have to pay for gas; charging is often less expensive.
2) very little maintenance is required (just for brakes and tires, and likely less so for brakes!).
3) EVs are more efficient than gas cars—EVs convert over 77 percent of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels.
Conventional gasoline vehicles convert about 12 to 30 percent of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.
The average price of electricity in LA is roughly $.195 per kilowatt hour (kWh). And if you get a separate meter (subsidized by LADWP) when you get a charger, the cost of your electricity will be discounted! You can look up how many kWh/100 miles your EV takes. Multiply the cost per kWh times the number of kWh to travel 100 miles and divide by 100 to get the cost per mile to charge. (For more information about this, go here and here.)
Make sure, if you are running the numbers, to factor all this in. Check out the US Department of Energy's vehicle cost calculator at afdc.energy.gov/calc to compare different cars.
Q. I’m scared to get stuck somewhere and not be able to charge my car! (or: help me, I have range anxiety!)
A. Even the tiniest EVs have a range of at least 58 miles, and that's enough for many of us. In case you regularly drive several hundred miles a day or take a lot of road trips, plenty of EVs, like the Chevy Bolt and the Nissan Leaf Plus, have 200+ mile ranges. (Learn more here.)
Before you get an EV, check out Chargepoint and PlugShare to see where the charging stations are near you. New charging stations are popping up all the time, and there are probably a lot more around than you think.
Q. If I want to charge at home, do I need to install a charger?
A. Not necessarily! YOU CAN CHARGE YOUR CAR WITH A REGULAR 110/120-volt outlet. Your car will charge more slowly with this outlet, but it will charge.
Also, some folks charge their cars at work or elsewhere.
Q. How hard is it to get a charger installed in my home?
A. It might cost about $2,000, but you don't have to pay all of that yourself!!!!
LADWP can help you figure out getting a new meter if you want or need one, and which can save you money. And they provide incentives!
Also, there is a federal tax credit for 30% of the cost. And the South Coast Air Quality Management District offers a rebate of up to $250 or $500 (depending on your income).
If you live in an apartment complex or condo, it is more complicated than if you live in a house you own, but it can be done. If you live in an apartment with five or more parking spaces or in a condo, you have a legal right to get a charger installed. You will have to get a letter of approval from your manager or homeowners' association, but electricians who specialize in charger installations are very familiar with these issues and can help you through the process.
If you want to advocate and organize for this in your building, this webinar might help you. This list of steps might also help.
And let your property manager know about all the charger incentives available to landlords through LADWP!!! The program is very popular and therefore very competitive, but it is worth checking out.
The Clean Vehicle Assistance Program, with GRID Alternatives, offers participants in the program grants with two charging station options (from $1,000 to $2,000), depending on what is right for you. Learn more at cleanvehiclegrants.org/charging-stations/.
Electric for All's list of incentives includes information about incentives for chargers (although it doesn't include the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program charging grants.)
EV chargers add value to any home.
Q. Will I like the ride?
A. A lot of drivers and passengers love how smooth and QUIET the ride is. And a lot of drivers love how quickly they can accelerate.
Q. I don’t know if I’m ready to commit to getting an EV, but I’m still curious. What other options do I have?
A. You could rent one through Turo.com. And although things are a bit different now with the pandemic, in other times there are ride-and-drive events!
Do you live in central Los Angeles? Visit BlueLA to find a BlueLA station near you. You can subscribe for $60 a year (or $12 a year if your income qualifies). Not owning a car at all is the cheapest and most environmental option of all.
Q. What are the other advantages of driving an electric car?
A. Climate change is shrinking our beaches and worsening wildfires across our state, and 39 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions come from the transportation sector. Electric vehicles, fueled by an increasingly green grid, not only combat climate change but the asthma, neurological problems, and cardiovascular disease caused by the particulate matter that fossil-fuel vehicles produce. Plus they’re fun to drive, cheap to maintain, and much quieter than conventional vehicles. Why wait to try one?
To learn more, visit ncsa.la/evs_why_and_how.
Want to learn more? Have questions? Feeling overwhelmed by the information? Attend one of our upcoming virtual workshops.
Do you have feedback for us? Questions? Contact Lisa Hart at [email protected].
Updated January 5, 2021
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