10 States That May Pay You Big Money to Buy an Electric Car

Bay Area Plans Major Expansion Of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Electric vehicle incentives that slash the upfront cost of green cars are available across the US | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What does an electric vehicle actually cost? Most people are aware of the zero gasoline costs when you charge a car rather than fill up the gas tank. However, things get more complicated when surveying available federal and state incentives, usually in the form of tax credits.

With the changes happening in state legislatures around the country, the situation is getting more confusing by the day. We start with what is known: the federal tax credit. For pure electric vehicles (EVs), the credit if $7,500 and claimed when you file taxes the following year. As for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), the credit ranges from $2,500 cars like Prius plug-in to $5,335 for the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid and $7,500 for the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 with range extender.

These incentives are a great start for auto consumers, but they get even better in many U.S. states. As of September 2016, here are the 10 U.S. states offering the most generous incentives for EVs on top of the federal tax credit.

10. New York

New York Times building, Midtown Manhattan
New York’s first purchase incentive became law in 2016 | Dmitry Brizhatyuk/Shutterstock

Welcome to the EV party, Empire State. New York’s first electric car purchase incentive, good for $2,000 off the MSRP of a qualifying vehicle, went on the books in April 2016. Purchase incentives for business owners top out at $5,000, so there is good reason for entrepreneurs to consider a plug-in as a company car as well. Like many other states, New York also offers HOV lane access for single-occupancy vehicles when EV drivers travel alone on the Long Island Expressway.

9. Pennsylvania

Philadelphia | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

If you’re in the Keystone State and want to pick up a green vehicle, now is the time. Pennsylvania has been offering rebates $2,000 for EVs with battery systems equal to or greater than 10 kWh, $1,000 for PHEVs, and $500 for electric motorcycles or scooters. This incentive expires December 31, 2016. Considering how many states are phasing out their incentives, there is no telling what will happen after that date.

8. Massachusetts

Boston | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Massachusetts is going in the other direction from state legislatures by offering up to $2,500 for pure EVs and many PHEVs through its MOR-EV program. Vehicles purchased after 2014 are eligible, and there are rebates for even the smallest battery systems, including the Prius plug-in ($1,500) and qualifying electric motorcycles ($750). This program is in place until 2017.

7. Michigan

Ford electric vehicle charging demonstration
Ford demonstration | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

You cannot buy a Tesla in the state of Michigan, so that’s out. However, most cost-conscious consumers are not going to have a Model S P100D on the menu anyhow. For those who would like a Detroit electric vehicle or a comparable model from Japan, there is a $2,500 rebate available in Michigan when you own an EV and install a charging system in your home. Special charging rates are also available from utilities.

6. California

With its powerful Air Resources Board in place, California emissions laws have been effective at reducing pollution.
California freeway | David McNew/Getty Images

In the U.S., California has been the most aggressive state on the green vehicle front. Without the efforts in emissions standards, many automakers would not have produced electric vehicles. To get more zero-tailpipe-emissions cars on the road, California offers tax credits of $2,500 for EVs and $1,500 for PHEVs in addition to the federal incentive. That equals up to $10,000 off the sticker price. In addition, drivers can get the much-coveted HOV lane access sticker for single occupancy. Special charging rates and discounts on charging station installment are also available.

5. Maryland

Ocean City, Md.
Ocean City, Md. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The great state of Maryland offers an excise tax credit of $3,000 for qualifying electric vehicles through June 2017, which makes it one of many states offering over $10,000 once you combine federal and state incentives. Regarding home chargers, the EVSE Rebate Program offers discounts of $900 for residents and up to $5,000 for business owners. HOV lane access is available as well.

4. Louisiana

Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras | Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

Whether you want to join a second line in the Treme or visit your in-laws uptown, an EV is an affordable way to make the rounds in New Orleans when you take advantage of state incentives. The language on the Louisiana website may be more convoluted than other states, but the bottom line is up to $3,000 in tax credits are available with qualifying electric vehicles.

3. South Carolina

A look at a morning jogger on a South Carolina beach
South Carolina beach | Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In South Carolina, state laws currently allow for the equivalent of 20% of the federal tax credit, which means a pure EV could net owners $3,000 in state tax credits on top of the $7,500 available. Total sticker price savings off qualifying vehicles would be $10,500, which makes many of the available electric cars true steals in the Palmetto State.

2. Texas

Rick Perry Awaits Election Results At Exotic Game Ranch
Texas | Ben Sklar/Getty Images

Texans who want to trade in a gas guzzler for a green car in the Lone Star State can take advantage of generous incentives through the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine program. Starting in September 2016, buyers at set income levels qualify for rebates of $3,500 when they make the switch to an electric model. There are price caps on the vehicles, so this program is not for Tesla Model S buyers.

1. Colorado

Bud Light Whatever, USA
Outdoor meditation in Colorado | Jason Bahr/Getty Images

What if you wanted an electric vehicle and realized you could get $13,500 off the sticker price? Adding up the federal tax credit and the $6,000 state credit in Colorado, you can make it happen. They do things a little differently in the Centennial State, and there is no EV incentive more generous in America. Take the Nissan Leaf with a base price of $29,010. It costs $15,510 once you file your taxes. That’s how you spur green car adoption. The most generous incentive expired at the end of 2016.