News Release

Clean Vehicle Rebate Project Initiates Rebate Now In San Diego County

Profile picture for user Center for Sustainable Energy
Ceremony announcing electric vehicle rebates

Press conference kicks off new pilot rebate program for electric vehicle rebates in San Diego (photo by Chuck Colgan)

The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) has launched Rebate Now, a preapproved rebate program that makes it easier and faster for California residents to lease or purchase electric vehicles. A press conference announcing the program was held at the Automotive Museum in San Diego's Balboa Park on Tuesday, February 6, featuring guest speaker Ron Roberts, San Diego County supervisor (4th District) and a member of the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

CVRP Rebate Now will take place first in San Diego County and, if successful, be applied statewide. San Diego’s diverse communities and car buying options make it an ideal test ground for this new approach to issuing incentives, according to transportation experts at CSE, administrators of CVRP for the CARB.

Like cash on the hood

Car shoppers now will be able to apply online and use Rebate Now at participating dealerships. This preapproved rebate provides a discount on the sale or lease of an eligible model.

CARB officials anticipate Rebate Now will encourage electric vehicle (EV) sales and increase project participation by reducing upfront costs, particularly among lower-income consumers. Complete program details and rebate applications are available online at

Since 2010, CVRP has issued Californians over $480 million in rebates for more than 218,000 eligible EVs. According to CSE research, during the first five years of the rebate program, roughly 75 percent of eligible purchases and leases were rebated.

“Car shoppers in San Diego can now get preapproved before they purchase or lease an EV and then transfer the rebate amount directly to the dealership rather than applying for the rebate after the transaction,” said Lawrence Goldenhersh, CSE president. “In just a few simple steps, the car dealership can claim the transferred rebate and use it to lower the customer’s down payment.”

Rebates range from $900 for zero-emission motorcycles to between $1,500 and $5,000 for passenger cars. Rebates cover various models of zero-emission vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles. An additional $2,000 is available for qualified lower-income residents.

How Rebate Now works

Customers must apply for a preapproved rebate before they buy or lease their EV from a dealership. The application qualifies them for a rebate, but does not require they select a specific make or model before car shopping. After CVRP preapproves their application, they can visit a participating auto dealership and use their preapproved rebate to purchase or lease an eligible vehicle. It only takes a few minutes for the dealership sales staff to qualify the rebate application.

Preapproved car shoppers can choose to claim the rebate themselves rather than through the dealership, however, they must complete a two-step application process and all other program requirements.

“This pilot study in San Diego provides the opportunity to evaluate consumer and dealership reactions to the preapproved rebate process as well as to test online systems and operations,” Goldenhersh said. “If we find this is a preferable means of distributing the rebates, it’s likely that CARB would launch a statewide CVRP preapproved rebate.”

For further information on CVRP, a list of eligible vehicles and rebates and complete application procedures, visit


February 6 2018
Center for Sustainable Energy