Buying or Leasing an Electric Vehicle? Get Money Back!
If you’re thinking about buying an electric vehicle (EV), don’t look at that sticker price just yet. Check out tax breaks and rebates first to capitalize on a sweet bit of cash back on your purchase (with some for leases, too).
There are three main financial incentives plus a fourth for UC Davis folks:
- Federal tax credit for buyers, offering the most money (up to $7500)
- California state rebate for buyers and lease holders, offering up to $2500 for most EVs, $5000 for fuel cell vehicles, and $2000 more for people who meet low-income guidelines
- PG&E payment of $500 to any energy customer who purchases an EV including Valley Clean Energy customers!
- Rebates for UC Davis affiliates
Impressive progress on City of Davis electric vehicle goals
Davis residents from both zip codes have benefited from 671 California Clean Air Vehicle rebates as of August 14, 2018, totaling approximately $1.5 million dollars in savings.
There are approximately 1140 total plug-in electric and fuel cell vehicles in our community. That means we’re 46% of the way toward the City of Davis goals of 2500 by 2020! Check out the Cool Davis Driving Electric web page for updates.
EVs@the Market 2018 at the starting line, Saturday, Sept 15th
If you still need a little nudge after all that savings, come out to the Davis Farmer’s Market for this year’s EVs@theMarket event slated for September 15, 2018, from 9am to 1pm. Electric vehicles of all stripes will be on site for viewing and test drives — including ebikes — tons of reps from local organizations with oodles of resources, and a Family Transportation Fair focused on bike safety are just a few of the fabulous findings to get charged up about!
Federal tax credits still available at full force
The federal tax credit ranges from about $4000 to $7500, depending on the size of the vehicle’s battery pack. The car must be capable of being charged by an external source, so hybrids that can’t be plugged in are not eligible. Battery-only EVs (BEVs) all qualify for the full $7500. Plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) with large batteries (like the Chevy Volt, Honda Clarity plug-in, and Chrysler Pacifica plug-in) also quality at the $7500 level. PHEVs with smaller batteries get a smaller credit. For example, the Toyota Prius Prime qualifies for $4502 and the Ford C-Max Energi for $4007.
If you’re shopping for an EV, you can go to an IRS website to see a list of qualifying cars. Some newer models do not appear in this list, but the IRS will accept the manufacturer’s certification that a car qualifies and the amount it qualifies for.
The tax credit amount is subtracted from the total federal tax that you owe in the year that you took ownership of the car. Buying just before tax time results in the shortest turn around time. If your federal tax liability is less than the tax credit amount, you lose the difference. You cannot roll the remaining credit over to later tax years.
You must purchase the EV to receive the credit. Simply putting a deposit down on an EV does not qualify. If you lease an EV, the credit goes to the manufacturer. However, in most instances, manufacturers then factor the credit into the lease to lower the payments.
Tax credits were designed to phase out as automakers reach certain sales numbers. Currently, the phaseout trigger for each automaker is 200,000 plug-in vehicles sold in the US. When an automaker reaches this sales number, a reduction in the tax credit will begin at the start of the following quarter. (For example, if a manufacturer hits the 200,000 mark in January, a reduction will start in April.) For the next six months, buyers will qualify for half of the original tax credit. For the six months after that, the tax credit is reduced to a quarter of the original. Then the tax credit ends.
Tesla reached its 200,000th US sale earlier in 2018. In 2019, Tesla buyers will only have access to a $3,750 federal tax credit. GM, which sells the popular Bolt and Volt, is close behind. Nissan, maker of the Leaf, should reach 200,000 EV sales in mid-2019, and Ford, Toyota, and BMW in 2020.
California rebate is for lease holders, too
California encourages people to buy or lease EVs by issuing rebate checks. Fuel cell vehicles and electric motorcycles, which aren’t eligible for the federal tax credit, qualify for the California rebate. The rebate amount varies depending on the car model and the buyer’s income. The base rebate amounts are $2,500 for a BEV, $1500 for a PHEV, $5000 for a fuel cell vehicle, and $900 for an e-motorcycle. The state is considering increasing its base EV rebate to $4,500.
For households with income equal to or less than 300% of the federal poverty level ($73,800 for a household of four), the rebate increases by $2000 for all vehicle types. However, the rebate isn’t available to some high-income households. If the gross annual income reported on the applicant’s most recent federal tax form exceeds certain limits ($150,000 for single filers, $204,000 for head of household filing singly and $300,000 for joint filers), the rebate isn’t available. There is one exception, however: People who buy a fuel-cell vehicle aren’t subject to the income limitation if they do not apply for the HOV lane access program described below.
The Clean Vehicle Rebate program is administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
You can complete the rebate application entirely online, including submitting supporting documents. Accommodations are made for people without access to a computer or scanner. You can submit the application as soon as you have completed the purchase or lease, and the approval process can take only a few weeks. Once your application is approved, the state will send you a check within 90 days.
A pilot program currently underway in San Diego County allows preapproval of an application before the EV sale, making payment quicker once the car is purchased. This program may be rolled out statewide; check the rebate website for the current status.
As of April 2018, California has issued 232,169 rebates for a total value of $514,430,030. Rebate applicants are asked to fill out a brief survey after approval. Almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents said that the rebate was either extremely or very important in making an EV purchase possible. Almost half (46%) said they would not have purchased an EV without the rebate. Yolo County respondents reported similar numbers.
Davis residents have benefited from 570 California Clean Air Vehicle rebates as of March 2018. Check out the Cool Davis Driving Electric web page for updates.
HOV lane access is still included
As a noncash incentive, California still offers HOV passes for EVs, allowing you to travel in a carpool lane even if you’re driving alone.
High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) or “carpool” lanes are generally restricted to vehicles with two or three occupants. (The number depends on the geographic area.) Clean air decals are managed by CARB allows an unaccompanied driver of a qualifying vehicle (BEV, PHEV, or fuel-cell vehicle) to use HOV lanes. Apply online and be ready to pay a modest $22 fee.
California’s current HOV lane EV access program is slated to end January 1, 2019, but the legislature has established a new program to extend EV access. The eligibility rules will be the same as the current ones. The application process for the new program has not yet been finalized.
For HOV decals reissued to applicants with stickers received in 2017 and 2018, the new decals expire will January 1, 2022. Any decal issued after January 1, 2019, will expire after three full years plus the partial year from when the decal was issued. Decals will be red rather than the current white and green. All remaining decals expire September 30, 2025.
PG&E-administered rebate for energy customers
PG&E administers the Clean Fuel Rebate program for its electricity customers — as well as Valley Clean Energy customers — using funds provided by the State of California Low Carbon Fuel Standard program. All plug-in vehicles are eligible to receive a $500 rebate. Applications are easy to submit online.
False rumors have circulated that this money must be used to install a Level 2 (220-watt) charging station in the home. While you could do that, you can use the money for any purpose, including a weekend getaway to celebrate the purchase of your new car.
To be eligible for the program, the applicant must have active residential electric service from Valley Clean Energy or PG&E. The account holder may apply on behalf of an EV owner in the household (or tenant in a multifamily property, mobile home park, or homeowner association) with the vehicle owner’s permission. The vehicle’s registration fees must be current, and the address on the vehicle registration must be the same as on the PG&E account.
This rebate applies to used vehicle purchases as well new and leases! A used vehicle qualifies for this program only if the previous owner did not receive a PG&E rebate in the past for that particular car.
The PG&E Clean Fuel Rebate for purchase or lease of an electric vehicle is also available to Valley Clean Energy customers but is handled through PG&E in the same way as for PG&E customers (Valley Clean Energy customers are “mutual” customers). In addition, the EV electricity rate for Valley Clean Energy customers is set at 2.5% lower than the PG&E electricity rate!
The goal of the program is to encourage the adoption of cleaner transportation fuels, including electricity. The clean electricity used to fuel an EV helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 66% over traditional motor fuels.
University of California affiliate rebates for certain models
The UC Davis Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Center hosts a web page Resources for PEV Buyers highlighting rebates offered by the University of California to affiliates. Current rebates are offered for the Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3. Check back for changes.
Cool Davis is a coalition of citizens, the City of Davis, and community organizations working to empower our community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.