California Clean Vehicle Rebate (CVRP) Explained

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Senior Pricing Analyst

As CarsDirect’s resident pricing expert, Alex offers must-know analyses of pricing & incentives to those looking to buy or lease a car. His consumer-oriented coverage of the latest trends and breaking news has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine, and more.

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, Senior Pricing Analyst - December 12, 2023

Update: The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project has officially stopped taking applications and has ended as of November 2023. There was a brief period in which the program ran out of funding in September and began a waitlist. According to the California Air Resources Board, the CVRP will be replaced by a statewide version of Clean Cars 4 All, a rebate meant to assist low-income households.

The California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, or CVRP, is a popular California EV rebate that can save buyers money on an EV, plug-in hybrid, or hydrogen fuel cell car. Unlike the federal tax credit or manufacturer EV rebates, the CVRP is an after-purchase discount that's available to those who meet certain eligibility criteria.

If you live in the state of California and are considering buying or leasing a plug-in, there's a good chance that the incentive could make one more affordable than you think. There's even an increased rebate available for low-income buyers. Here's a look at how the program works and why it may be a good deal for plug-in shoppers.

Last Updated on December 12th at 12:47 pm

Who's Eligible For The CVRP?

The Clean Vehicle Rebate is available to those who buy or lease a qualifying vehicle and who submit an application within 90 days of delivery. Income limits were added in 2015 barring certain higher-income earners, but increased rebates were also introduced to help low-income applicants.

It's also worth noting that leases must be for a minimum of 30 months in length to qualify for the CVRP. That means offers like 24-month leases on the Nissan LEAF make the EV ineligible for the rebate.

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CVRP Awards For Various Income Levels

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The CVRP has different award amounts based on income. The calculations are based on income that is 400% of the Federal Poverty Limit.

According to the CVRP's website, 400% of the Federal Poverty Limit is currently $58,320 for a household of 1, $78,880 for a household of 2, and $99,440 for a household of 3. If you earn less than these amounts, you may qualify for an increased rebate.

Standard Clean Vehicle Rebate For Most Applicants

Electric Cars: $2,000

Plug-In Hybrid: $1,000

Hydrogen Fuel Cell: $4,500

Income Less Than 400% Of The Federal Poverty Limit

Electric Cars: $7,500

Plug-In Hybrid: $6,500

Hydrogen Fuel Cell: $7,500

Income Over $135,000 For Single Filers / $175,000 For Head-Of-Household / $200,000 For Joint Filers

Electric Cars: Not Eligible

Plug-In Hybrid: Not Eligible

Hydrogen Fuel Cell: $4,500

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Clean Vehicle Rebate Required Documents

According to the program website, you'll need the following to get started:

  • A signed CVRP application
  • A copy of your vehicle purchase or lease agreement
  • Proof of registration
  • A copy of your driver's license

If you're selected to verify your income, you'll also need IRS Form 4506-C (IVES Request For Transcript of Tax Return).

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Clean Vehicle Rebate MSRP Cap

The Clean Vehicle Rebate currently has a $45,000 MSRP cap for cars and $60,000 for SUVs, minivans, and trucks.

The MSRP caps were added back in December 2019, excluding higher-priced vehicles like the Tesla Model X.

Clean Vehicle Rebate Minimum Range For PHEVs

The CVRP revised its minimum range requirement for plug-ins to 30 miles back in 2021.

At the time, the change excluded over half a dozen plug-in hybrid models, including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

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What Happens When CVRP Funding Runs Out?

California has a solid track record of supporting alternative fuel vehicles. However, the Clean Vehicle Rebate also has a habit of running out of money. When that happens, the program implements a waiting list to save your place in line. At that point, it's important to keep in mind that funding is not guaranteed.

Depending on when the CVRP runs out of money, you may find yourself waiting anywhere from 1 to 6 months until the corresponding legislation is signed into law. We recommend checking the official program website for funding status. You can also contact the program's customer service department directly.

The program is administered by the Center For Sustainable Energy. The program's email address is cvrp@energycenter.org, and the phone number is 866-984-2532 for English and 866-550-8130 for Spanish. The program also has support available for other languages such as Tagalog, French, and more.

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Is The Clean Vehicle Rebate Worth It?

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If you're eligible, you may find it a no-brainer to apply for the Clean Vehicle Rebate. In addition to being able to submit required documents easily online, the program is even testing a point-of-sale rebate in the San Diego region that you can get immediately at participating dealers called Rebate Now.

To save time, you may want to consider getting pre-approved. That said, there are some potential drawbacks. For example, the program has a 30-month ownership requirement that could cause problems if you decide to sell your car. There's another disadvantage if you're planning to do a lot of commuting with your vehicle.

If you happen to be classified as a high-income earner based on the criteria listed above, a limitation introduced back in 2018 actually prohibits you from taking advantage of both the CVRP and a free HOV lane access decal on an EV or plug-in hybrid. Hydrogen fuel cell cars do not have this restriction.

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Can The CVRP Be Combined With Other Rebates?

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Yes! Programs like the California Clean Fuel Reward (up to $750 based on battery capacity) can be combined for maximum savings. In the case of an EV, this can offer consumers an increase in savings compared to just the CVRP. Normally, this can translate to as much as $2,750 in combined incentives.

It's also worth knowing that the CVRP is separate from manufacturer incentives. For example, if Lexus is advertising $10,000 off the electric RZ, likely, the Clean Vehicle Rebate isn't included. If you see a discount from a dealer, be sure to ask what incentives are included to avoid any surprises.

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, Senior Pricing Analyst

As CarsDirect’s resident pricing expert, Alex offers must-know analyses of pricing & incentives to those looking to buy or lease a car. His consumer-oriented coverage of the latest trends and breaking news has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine, and more.

Follow On: Twitter

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