8 Steps to Find Out if You Qualify for a FREE Electric Car

8 Steps to Find Out if You Qualify for a FREE Electric Car

By stacking four incentives and current record low lease pricing, some low to moderate income drivers may be able to lease an EV for free, while others could purchase a used EV for free or very low cost. Higher income drivers can use these programs to get amazing deals on new or used EVs – as low as $100/month for the most affordable leases, after incentives. There are now over 40 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the market in California, in all shapes and sizes from small affordable sedans, to larger cars, crossovers, SUVs and minivans.

  1. Do you qualify for the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program [1] (income of $104,800 or under for a family of 4, see webpage for other family sizes), which gives a $5,000 grant toward a new or used EV or plug-in hybrid, as well as can pay $2,000 toward a charging station or $1,000 in credits for public charging stations?
  2. Can you also qualify for the California Vehicle Rebate Program [2] enhanced $4,500 rebate (income of $78,600 or under for a family of 4)? Most people with an income under $150,000/single filer, $300,000/joint will qualify for a standard rebate of $2,000.
  3. If you live in the Monterey Bay Region, you might also qualify to receive a rebate up to $4000 from Monterey Bay Air Resource Districtand PG&E’s $800 rebate [3]?
  4. Drivers that qualify for all four incentives (total of $14,300) could lease some of the most affordable pure EVs for free, as many leases cost less than $14,300 for three years. Leasing is traditionally not an affordable way to drive a new car, but with high incentives and low-cost leasing for EVs, even drivers that only qualify for standard rebates ($4,800) may be able to put the $4,800 in incentives as a down payment and receive a monthly lease payment of $50-$100. Charging at home is about 1/3-1/2 the price of gas, so many drivers also could save significantly on their gasoline bill.
    Read more from Consumer Reports about the pros and cons of leasing as well as review their hybrid and EV buying guide. Leasing a car can come with unexpected payments at the end of three years if the vehicles has mileage overages or is turned in with damages or more than normal wear and tear.
  5. The Clean Vehicle Assistance Program and Monterey Bay Air Resource District rebates can be applied toward used vehicles, which can be purchased starting at $5,000-$10,000. The lowest priced used electric vehicles may have ranges under 100 miles and be a good choice for depending on your driving needs. Plug-in hybrids or used EVs with 200+ mile ranges can start at $10,000-$15,000 and may be better choices for one car households or drivers with long commutes (who would have to pay extra for a high mileage lease).
  6. Do you have access to charging at work or home (regular 110-volt outlet, or 220-volt dryer outlet, or ability to add it?) The Clean Vehicle Assistance Programpays for up to $2,000 toward installing a charging station OR gives $1,000 in credits to use at public charging stations. Find charging stations at com. Many are free and if you do need to pay, it’s still much cheaper than gasoline.
  7. Learn all about the 40+ models of EVs, the difference between a pure EV and a plug-in hybrid, used versus new EVs, incentives, how charging works at home, at public places, and on road trips and more at our  EV 101 webinar in English and Spanish.
  8. Need help? Contact us for free purchase guidance or watch our webinar, “How to Buy a Pre-Owned Electric Car,” which will cover these topics in greater detail.

[1] The Clean Vehicle Assistance Program is a grant of up to $5,000 that is applied at the dealer to help income-qualified Californians purchase or lease a used or new electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid, or hybrid vehicle. The program takes 3 weeks to 3 months to qualify for, so start today to review program guidelines and see how it might work for you.

[2] The Clean Vehicle Rebate Program is a rebate that you apply for after buying or leasing a new electric vehicle. It can take up to 90 days to receive.

[3] If you receive power from Central Coast Community Energy, Clean Power Alliance, or another Community Choice organization, you can still receive the utility rebate, which you apply for after purchasing or leasing an EV.


The Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance is fiscally funded by:

Ecology Action