Since last May plug-in cars like the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Chevy Volt and several others effectively cost $3,000 less than their suggested prices in Connecticut, but apparently the word of free money has still not spread very far.
What’s this, you ask? Collusion between manufacturers? No, not quite, and technically MSRPs are the same as anywhere else, but Connecticut offers its residents $3,000 cash-on-the-hood rebates for these cars at the time of sale, thus making them that much cheaper.
The name of its point-of-sale rebate plan that offers buyers $750-$3,000 depending on the car is therefore appropriately enough called just that: CHEAPR. This is an acronym for Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate Program.
Under the program, 19 plug-in cars, two fuel cell vehicles – and counting – are eligible for sliding scale financial incentives and they come as the state is eagerly promoting these cleaner and greener solutions.
Last November, more funds were added to the CHEAPR plan which also offers grants for municipalities in state to buy vehicles and charging equipment.
For ordinary car buyers, the result is an incentive that can be combined with a federal tax credit, but unlike the IRS way of doing things, this one involves no lines, no waiting.
In fact, says EV advocate Mark Renburke from Drive Electric Cars New England, if dealers are savvy, they can use the perk to sell more cars.
Renburke, who tirelessly campaigns to share the message about plug-in cars, and himself drives a Volt, says some dealers however are not on board, and some consumers have remained in the dark.
“The biggest challenge is getting the word out,” Renburke said. “I haven’t done a poll, but it wouldn’t surprise me if 95 percent or more of Connecticut consumers were unaware of the rebate.”
This is despite articles already written on Connecticut’s rather unique program.
One issue advocates have said may be dealers with nothing to gain, such as those that sell Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Chrysler, etc., have no vested interest in spreading the word because they sell no plug-in cars in state at the moment.
But those dealers that do sell plug-ins – assuming they have learned about CHEAPR – can use the immediate financial gratification to their advantage.
Deal-closers salespeople in Connecticut can say that those in others cannot are things like, “Don’t worry about the $3,000 down payment on the lease, the rebate cancels it out,” said Renburke giving one hypothetical example.
Or, “You can buy with this payment and no money down, thanks to the $3,000 rebate,” he offered based on his experience interacting with others in state. (Or if the dollar amount is less, then the phrase is adjusted accordingly).
What’s more, despite what may occur to some, the rebate does not necessarily lend itself to dealers being less willing to negotiate because they know the government will kick in money on the deal.
Speaking of Chevy dealers, Renburke says in his experience they do not collude, and still try to undercut one another, so the consumer shopping around can still win.
And if they do, Connecticut wins, says Robert Klee, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
“Putting more Connecticut drivers behind the wheel of an EV is what it will take to drive down harmful carbon emissions linked to climate change, reduce conventional pollutants that threaten our air quality and public health, and help motorists reduce the cost of owning and operating a car,” said Commissioner Klee.
More info can be seen at the CHEAPR website. Following is a video by the state combatting some of the usual misconceptions consumers might entertain.