A point-of-sale rebate program in California could further promote EV adoption and shift more focus toward lower income consumers.
The California Air Resources Board's (CARB) Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) can get you up to $7,000 when you purchase a zero emission vehicle (up to 7k for fuel cells, $4,500 for BEVs, $3,500 for PHEVs - full details on qualifications and requirements here).
However, you still have to finance the full price, and then wait for a check to come in the mail. The amount that you receive is also now income-based, which is something new that California has initiated after finding that its rebates were likely benefiting high-end buyers who may not have needed the assistance.
Toyota Prius Prime
California has made considerable progress with it ZEV initiatives, but the state is constantly working toward ways to secure more vast adoption, especially for its lower income residents. If the rebate came off the sale price of the vehicle at the time of transaction, it could surely spur a marked jump in sales.
In order to assure that the program works as planned, buyers will have to verify income and prequalify through the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE). Since current programs are already indexed by income, this wouldn't be much different.
Essentially, the consumer submits an application with supporting documents to CSE, which is then approved (or not) via email. The buyer would have a certain time frame to visit a dealer and complete a transaction. Dealers can check consumer eligibility online, and would be reimbursed by CSE after the fact.
San Diego may be the initial location for a point-of-sale rebate pilot program. CARB believes that the area is ideal because it encompasses "a representative selection of dealers across all eligible OEMs." San Diego also provides a wide mix of income levels. CARB hasn't yet released details about when the program may begin, or if and when it will hit other markets.