While an affordable $25,000 Tesla remains a dream for some, this might not be the case for some in-the-know California residents. Geography is key here. Being located properly in California (and qualifying), you can actually purchase a Model 3 for around $25,000. Hey, why wait for a $25,000 compact Tesla in a few years when you can get a larger, more luxurious Model 3 for that price right now?
Even though the federal tax credit has already been phased out for Tesla, California still offers a good number of perks to significantly lower the price of a Tesla (or any other electric vehicle, for that matter). These include tax credit programs and cash rebates.
There are other states (and countries) that offer some compelling incentives for transitioning to a zero emissions vehicle, but California seems to have taken the lead in the United States.
When you order a Tesla Model 3, Y, S, or X from the state of California, your purchase automatically includes a $1,500 California Clean Fuel Reward deduction (see example below) — no need to apply for this grant separately.
After the recent price increase (note: the price tag is always changing at Tesla, so be sure to double-check at time of purchase), the price of a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus is now $38,490 — at the time this article was originally written. After the $1,500 California Clean Fuel Reward deduction, the price is then reduced down to $36,999.
California residents can also apply for a $5,000 grant offered by the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program (CVAP). This program has eligibility criteria based on individual or family income. Reportedly, approval for this grant usually takes around 2–3 months. Once you get approval, you can bring the paperwork to a Tesla store for processing.
The California Clean Vehicle Assistance Program also offers a $2,000 grant for the installation of charging infrastructure at your home. So this bumps up the total grant to $7,000 for eligible applicants.
Bay Area residents also have another option called the Clean Cars For All program. If this grant is stacked on top of the $7,000 grant noted above, the maximum of a $9,500 rebate can be available to a prospective (and qualified) Tesla buyer in California.
By the way, there’s more! It turns out that there’s another grant named the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), and luckily, Tesla Model Y and Model 3 both are on the eligible vehicle list. This adds another $2,000 rebate if you apply online. Once approved, you’ll get a check for $2,000 sent to your mailbox — simple and straightforward.
The CVRP grant also offers an additional $2,500 rebate for low and moderate-income households in the San Joaquin Valley and San Diego County. To be specific, the California CVRP website notes, “The option to get pre-approved through Rebate Now is currently available for increased rebates to low and moderate-income residents in San Diego County and the counties that make up the San Joaquin Valley who have not yet purchased or leased their vehicle.”
The following table shows a complete breakdown of these grants to help clarify.
Okay. So what if you live in California and are able to qualify for these grants? What if you’re looking at purchasing a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus and, like many, you’ve got a limited budget? Let’s be honest, the most you could spend is around $25,000. Could this really work? Well, let’s take a look below.
Yes, it’s possible! As noted above, with the (current) lowest cost totaling $25,450, assuming all rebates and perks are possible in your specific situation and geography, a Tesla Model 3 SR+ price becomes quite competitive with a low-priced 2021 Honda Accord. Wow. And as EV price parity occurs with gas-guzzling internal combustion engine cars, Teslas (and other electric cars) will become ever-more desirable to the masses — and that’s a good thing for the transition to EVs.
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