Tesla Model 3 Cost Comparable To Toyota Prius Cost In California (With Incentives)

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While the Tesla Model 3’s starting price of $35,000 is in no way “cheap” — not by most people’s standards anyway — there are quite a few incentives on offer in the US that make the cost of purchasing the model much more amenable than appears to be the case at first glance.

In fact, in the US states with the highest plug-in electric car incentives, the cost of purchasing a base-level Tesla Model 3 will be roughly equivalent to purchasing a new Toyota Prius.

Related: US State Incentives on Plug In America

There are some caveats to that statement of course — the $7,500 federal tax credit requires actually having a tax liability that’s at least $7,500 in one year. Quite a lot of people in the US don’t have tax liabilities that are that substantial.

Also, as should be clear from the wording used, that’s a tax credit, not a rebate — which means that the upfront purchase price isn’t $7,500 lower, simply that you can use it to write off some or all of your taxes.

Related: Top EV Incentives (CleanTechnica #EV Report)

In addition to the federal tax credit, however, a number of states do offer EV rebates. California offers a $2,500 rebate towards the purchase of many plug-in electric vehicle models.

The Drive provides more on that: “One of the ways this is accomplished is by promoting the affordability of EVs through a traditional rebate program called California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), which is administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). CVRP will provide you with a rebate which will vary in value depending on what electric car you buy. On Wednesday, CVRP added the Tesla Model 3 to the approved list of EVs. Buy one and you’ll get a nice check for up to $2,500, assuming you meet its other qualifications.”

So, altogether, while the eventual cost of purchasing a Tesla Model 3 may be roughly the same as that of a Toyota Prius in California, the process isn’t equivalent — considerably more money is needed up front, and then can be recouped from incentives (potentially).

It should also be realized here that the federal tax credit won’t apply towards the purchase of Tesla’s offerings for too much longer, as the company is getting close to passing the 200,000 units sold cutoff mark (when the federal tax credit starts to get phased out).

All of that said, the effective purchase price may still be well under $35,000.


  1. Federal EV Tax Credit Phaseout Quarter For Tesla Becoming More Clear (Sort Of)
  2. Tesla Model 3 vs BMW 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, & i3
  3. Tesla Model 3 vs Audi A3, Audi A4, Audi A5, Audi S3
  4. Tesla Model 3 vs Lexus ES (& ES Hybrid), Lexus IS, Lexus GS (& GS Hybrid), & Lexus CT Hybrid
  5. Tesla Model 3 vs Acura ILX, Acura TLX, & Acura RLX
  6. Tesla Model 3 vs Mercedes 300, Mercedes 350e, Mercedes AMG C43
  7. Used Tesla Model S vs Tesla Model 3 (Next #Electrifying Webinar)

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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