Ready, set, drive electric: State instant rebate program to help more consumers choose electric vehicles

Combined with federal and dealer incentives, $45 million in state rebates aim to make EVs accessible to lower income drivers

OLYMPIA, WA – The choice and benefits of driving electric vehicles (EVs) is about to become more affordable to many more Washingtonians, thanks to a new state program announced today. Flanked by a showcase of affordably priced EV models at a Seattle City Light public charging station in Tukwila, Gov. Jay Inslee and Washington State Department of Commerce Director Mike Fong previewed the $45-million state program offering instant rebates to eligible residents purchasing or leasing an EV. The program opens in August.

“Washington state is already a leader in EV adoption, but many more people interested in ditching the gas pump may think they can’t afford to do it,” Gov. Inslee said. “With these new rebates, we’re significantly lowering the entry point, opening the door to EVs for people of modest incomes as we continue paving the way to a clean transportation future for all.”

“Transportation is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollution,” Fong said. “It is important that people who live in our most-impacted communities, which tend to be urban and lower income, have access to cleaner transportation options, including the choice of EV ownership. These rebates can help many more people all across the state buy or lease an EV.”

Washington is the first state to prioritize low-cost leases as part of an EV incentive program. Under the new program, Washington residents earning up to $45,180 annually for a single person or $93,600 for family of four, are eligible to receive up to $9,000 for a new EV lease of three years or more, or up to $5,000 for new EV purchases or two-year leases. Used EVs are also eligible for a $2,500 rebate on both purchases and leases.

In an example estimate based on advertised lease deals in April that combine federal government and automaker incentives, the added Washington EV Instant Rebate program could make lease payments on at least four EV models less than $100 a month with no down payment for qualifying consumers. In comparison, monthly payments for the most commonly leased gas cars average about $500 per month, according to recent data from Experion.

How it works

Interested consumers will go to a dealer to learn about low-cost lease offers available under the state instant rebate program. The dealer will get a signed attestation that the buyer meets the income requirements of the program, and determine that their credit score qualifies for a lease deal on offer. With that, the dealer deducts the applicable rebate amount from the cost of the lease and then applies dealer, state and local fees to arrive at the total lease amount. There is no state sales tax because the vehicles qualify for the state’s zero-emission vehicles exemption up to $15,000 in lease payments.

For example: A dealer is advertising a three-year lease at $239 per month with $1,999 due at signing – for a total lease cost of $10,364 ($1,999 + $239 x 35 months). For the qualifying customer, a $9,000 state EV Instant Rebate brings the lease cost down to $1,364. The dealer applies a $500 lease fee, $200 documentation fee, and collects state and local transit, title and registration fees of $734, making the final lease total $2,798, or $78 per month over the 36-month agreement.

The program will collaborate with automakers and dealers to offer the low-cost EV leasing and point-of-sale rebates. Together, these opportunities make EVs more accessible to a broader range of people. Dealers who participate in the program can also receive incentives for promoting EV adoption. Additionally, the program will provide EV charging education through a variety of consumer awareness and engagement activities.

By facilitating the transition from gasoline-powered to electric vehicles, the Washington EV Instant Rebate program will directly contribute to cleaner air and a healthier environment. It is estimated that the program could lead to a reduction of up to 24,000 metric tons of Co2 emissions in the transportation sector, Washington’s greatest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.

State strategy calls for equitable access 

Commerce co-chairs the Washington Interagency Electric Vehicle Coordinating Council (EV Council) with the Department of Transportation. The EV Council released a state Transportation Electrification Strategy (TES) in February, providing recommendations to ensure that EV incentives and infrastructure are accessible and available to all Washingtonians.

During the TES process, rideshare drivers – many of whom will qualify for the new instant rebates – expressed the need for incentives and rebates.

“Rideshare drivers spend a lot of miles on the road. For a just transition to electric vehicles, EV driving needs to be accessible to drivers of all walks of life,” said Kathryn Jensen, field representative focused on EVs for the Drivers Union. “Along with fast charging infrastructure to power these vehicles, readily affordable EV options will make the switch to electric possible for more of our communities than ever before.”

In addition to the consumer EV lease and purchase incentives announced today, Commerce is administering over $145 million in funding promoting electrification of transportation in Washington state. Much of this work is funded by the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), creating jobs, lowering costs and fighting climate change throughout Washington state.

More EV charging stations across the state

To date, Commerce has invested $100 million in EV infrastructure from CCA funding, including $85 million announced in February for nearly 5,000 new charging stations in multifamily housing properties, publicly accessible locations, and in communities highly vulnerable to the health impacts of air pollution.

Earlier in the day, King County hosted an Earth Week event highlighting its EV fleet and noting a $5.8 million grant from Commerce funded by the CCA.

Earlier in the day, King County hosted an Earth Week event highlighting its EV fleet and noting a $5.8 million grant from Commerce funded by the CCA.

“We’re taking action in King County — and across Washington state — to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks to critical funding from the Department of Commerce we can work to expand to EV charging access countywide. This is a great example of how King County can partner with state and local governments, community organizations and the commercial sector to tackle the climate crisis,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Today’s event was hosted at Seattle City Light’s Tukwila public fast charging station located at 13050 Interurban Avenue South. This station is the most frequently used of all the utility’s charging locations throughout the service area and popular with ride hail drivers and EV renters from the nearby Sea-Tac airport.

Learn more

For more information about the Washington EV Instant Rebate program for consumers, visit the Commerce webpage.


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