Starting today, July 7, Rhode Islanders who want to purchase or lease an electric vehicle (EV) are eligible to receive a rebate from the newly re-instated DRIVE EV program. This is big news for drivers who are tired of paying $5 per gallon of gasoline and are ready to buy a car that’s much better for the climate.
Here’s what you need to know about the DRIVE EV program.
What incentives are available for new EVs?
Rhode Island residents may receive a $2,500 rebate for buying or leasing a new battery electric vehicle (BEV) and $1,500 for buying or leasing a new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). New EVs must have a sale price at or below $60,000 to be eligible for an incentive.
What incentives are available for used EVs?
Rhode Island residents may receive a $1,500 rebate for buying a used BEV and $750 for buying a used PHEV. Used EVs must have a sale price at or below $40,000 to be eligible for an incentive.
Are there additional incentives for low-and-moderate income drivers?
Yes. If you meet certain income requirements, you are eligible for an additional:
- $2,000 for the purchase/lease of a new BEV
- $1,000 for the purchase/lease of new PHEV
- $1,500 for the purchase/lease of used BEV
- $750 for the purchase/lease of used PHEV
These incentives stack on top of the incentives for new and used EVs described above. For example, an income-eligible household purchasing a used BEV would receive a $3,000 incentive. For more information on how to prove your income eligibility, see the DRIVE EV Program Guidance Document.
Are there any incentives for fleet operators?
Yes! Rebates are available for small businesses, non-profits, and public sector entities operating vehicles in Rhode Island. The incentive structure for fleets is exactly the same as for individuals, though fleets may apply for up to 5 rebates within 24 months.
How do I apply for a rebate?
Visit drive.ri.gov to submit your application. To apply, you will need a valid RI registration for your new vehicle, the final sales or lease agreement, a RI driver’s license, and a signed W-9 form. Learn more about program requirements by reading the DRIVE EV Program Guidance Document.
How long do I have to apply for the rebate?
Rhode Island residents have 120 days after purchase to apply for any incentive, but don’t delay submitting your application; incentives will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
How long will this program last?
Not long. Only $1.25 million has been allocated to the DRIVE EV program, and the program will last for as long as there are still funds available. There's enough money to support about 600 vehicle purchases.
It is one of our policy priorities to secure long-term funding to offer the DRIVE EV program on a more consistent basis in the future.
How long do I have to wait to receive the incentive?
The RI Office of Energy Resources expects that it will take 4-6 weeks after application is approved for you to receive the rebate. Incentives will be delivered via a single payment by check.
What other incentives are available?
Buyers of new electric cars may also be eligible to receive the federal tax credit of up to $7,500, depending on the vehicle make and model. Visit our webpage on incentives to learn more.
How do I find an EV?
Buying any new vehicle (electric or not) right now is tricky because of low supply and high demand. That being said, you can find the EV of your dreams if you plan ahead. The first step is to simply decide what EVs are the best fit for you. To help compare all the different EV models available on the market, check out the Drive Green EV Shopping Tool. Then, reach out to your local dealership and see if you can test drive and place a vehicle on order. It is taking about three months for pre-ordered EVs to arrive, according to recent Drive Green program participants.
Could this program have been more accessible to low-and-moderate drivers?
Yes. Green Energy Consumers Alliance submitted feedback about the program design earlier this spring, which you can read here. Our key concerns were the lack of a budget for each segment, the low availability of used EVs in Rhode Island, and the exclusion of an incentive to purchase e-bikes. We also would have preferred to limit the incentive to new cars selling for $50,000 or less to ensure that the program supports the purchase of lower-cost EV models for people who otherwise may not have been able to afford an EV.
In any case, the 600 or so EVs that will be supported by the DRIVE EV program is just the beginning. Rhode Island needs a long-term plan to fund an EV purchase incentive program. By our math, 100,000 EVs will need to be on the road by 2030 to stay on track to meeting the emissions reductions goals established by the Act On Climate.
We look forward to a future iteration of the DRIVE EV incentive to offer more support for drivers of all incomes to access electric transportation options.