Green

California electric car rebate program runs dry

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A California program that gives hybrid and pure-electric car buyers a rebate between $1,500 and $5,000 has run out of funding for the remainder of the state’s fiscal year ending June 30.

The state of California allocated $7 million last year for rebates to qualified electric car buyers. The popularity of the federally-mandated Cash for Clunkers program sent car buyers out in droves. Spurred on by high gas prices, early adopters were eager to go out and buy electric and hybrid-electric cars.

The next fiscal year’s budget allocates between $12 million and $17 million for a similar rebate program. But the budget has yet to pass and the state cannot begin spending money on the program until it does.

Electric vehicles are more expensive than those powered by an internal combustion engine. The Nissan Leaf, one of the cheapest electric cars on the market, is still quite expensive at around $33,000 before rebates.  It’s supposed to have a relatively low price tag and it’s labeled by Kelly Blue Book as the first electric car for the masses. The Nissan Leaf qualifies for a $1,500 rebate.

Electric car buyers can also apply for a federal tax credit that can bring the price down by as much as $7,500. Along with the state-funded rebate program, the federal credit can the cheapest electric cars down to a range of $20,000 to $30,000 — around the cost of a mid-to-upper-range gasoline-powered car.

Hybrids have more reasonable price tags. Toyota’s newest hybrid car, the Prius c, could attract more mainstream car buyers with its $23,520 sticker price.

Most electric car buyers are more concerned about how long it takes to charge the car and how far it is able to drive than the actual price of the electric car, according to a report by Accenture. Pure plug-in electric cars are typically limited in how far they will go on a charge and can require long charging times.