California $1,500 point-of-sale rebate on EVs starts this week

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and state utilities have partnered to offer car buyers a $1,500 point-of-sale rebate for electric cars or plug-in hybrids.

Unlike other purchase incentives, the California Clean Fuel Reward (CCFR) is taken directly off the purchase price or lease of a new vehicle. Consumers will get that price reduction starting November 17, albeit only at participating dealerships.

“The retailer will simply include the reward in the transaction at the point of sale,” a CARB press release said. “There is no need for the customer to do any paperwork after the sale to receive the reward.

The CCFR is funded by California utilities, using proceeds from the sale of emissions credits under the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program. The credits are awarded to utilities that adopt low-carbon methods of energy production.

Note that this does not involve California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), which gives rebates of $2,000 for electric cars, $1,000 for qualifying plug-in hybrids, and $4,500 for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles (with purchase-price and applicant-income caps), but requires consumers to apply after purchasing or leasing a vehicle. That program is ongoing, as are other state programs meant to increase EV adoption in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

A point-of-sale rebate is likely a very positive move toward California’s target of ending sales of new gasoline passenger vehicles or light trucks by 2035.

Dealerships often aren’t ready to explain tax credits, incentives, and rebates, but point-of-sale rebates are a different thing as they make the math more favorable right in the showroom. The dealership experience has been a major obstacle to EV adoption, so anything that smooths things out could be a major benefit.

Rebates that immediately put cash back in a customer’s pocket were also favored by readers in a Green Car Reports Twitter poll last year.

California still leads the way in EV incentives, but among other states, New Jersey stands as having one of the most generous cash-on-the-hood rebates. Earlier this year, govern Phil Murphy signed into law a rebate of up to $5,000 for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, with the specific amount determined by a car’s EPA-rated electric-only range.

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