5 Incentives for Electric Vehicle and Plug-in Hybrid Buyers

focus electric
Source: Ford

Electric vehicle buyers may pay a premium for going green, but there are a number of incentives that make the end price of a plug-in more palatable. State and local governments have every reason to encourage adoption of cleaner cars, and most are willing to show auto consumers the money before they plunk down savings on gasoline cars.

Still, the purchase of an EV or plug-in hybrid will hinge for most consumers on incentives available at the time of purchase. You may be able to take advantage of everything from tax credits to rebates at purchase and access to restricted lanes on area highways.

Here are five incentives available for electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid shoppers to explore before making a green car purchase.

1. Home charger credits

"EV Japan" Electric Vehicle Expo 2011 Kicks-Off
Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

With Level 2 EV chargers for homes now at their lowest prices to date, plug-in buyers have the opportunity to effectively install one for free. ChargePoint lists the available charger incentives for EV owners by state, and most come in the form of a rebate at the time of purchase. In many cases, the amount is $500, about the price of a basic charger these days. Installation costs are usually not included.

2. Federal tax credit on purchase/lease


After all these years (and for the foreseeable future), consumers still have the federal tax credit of $7,500 for a qualifying purchase of an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid. Buyers claim the credit the year after the purchase on tax returns. With options like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric sporting sticker prices below $30,000, this incentive makes these EVs highly practical as second cars for families.

3. State tax credit on purchase

Source: Kia

In recent years, some of the most extravagant state EV incentives have expired (including Georgia’s $5,000 credit). However, states from Colorado to Pennsylvania continue to offer $3,000 (or more) for the purchase of a battery EV. Mix in these tidy sums in addition to the federal credit and you can reduce the purchase price of some cars by one third. Visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center to check on your particular state.

4. HOV lane access

California Tightens Policy For Hybird Drivers Access To Carpool Lanes
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Not every electric car incentive revolves around cold cash. In many states, EV drivers get access to the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) when riding alone in their cars. Residents of California and other traffic-snarled states know the value of this status. If you consider time money, the HOV pass in your low-emissions vehicle is close enough to gold. In places like New York, it also comes with a discount on E-Z Pass fees.

5. Sales tax exemptions

Eric Schaal
Eric Schaal/Autos Cheat Sheet

When talking about cars that mostly cost over $30,000, the prospect of paying no sales tax should be highly appealing for auto consumers. Several states offer this incentive for buyers of plug-in EVs and qualifying hybrids. In Washington state, tax exemption applies to vehicles with a sticker below $35,000, so Teslas won’t make the cut, but there are still many options on the table.

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