Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate, in case you were wondering, is what the acronym stands for. CHEAPR has been with us for a while now. It was passed in 2015 and has handed out 5267 rebates (through August 31), totaling over $10 million for the purchase of fuel-efficient EVs. (There were 10,797 EVs registered in the state as of July 1, so it sure seems like it has been a factor.)
If you go on the program’s website today (Oct. 1), it indicates that there is only $60,958 in remaining funds. But HB 7205, passed in the 2019 legislative session, authorizes a replenishment due to take effect today, which will hopefully be reflected soon, and which funds the program through 2025.
Keep in mind, CHEAPR is a rebate. It is not a tax-credit like the Federal incentive, and there are no manufacturer sales caps. The rebate is more consumer-friendly in our view.
Current Incentive Levels
CHEAPR standards have changed over time. The basic idea of the rebate size being driven by zero-emissions range is still present, but as cars have changed, so have the criteria. This is the current incentive breakdown:
As the chart indicates, incentives are available for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV), battery electric vehicles (BEV), and fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV). The implication is that FCEVs have much greater range than a BEV. That isn’t entirely the case. A Tesla Model 3 has up to a 310-mile range, Chevy Bolt gets 238 miles, Hyundai Kona is rated at 258. There are two FCEVs currently registered in the state. Both are Toyota Mirais, rated 312 miles. The other two FCEVs that we are aware of are the Hyundai Tucson (265 miles), and the FCEV version of the Honda Clarity (366 miles). There were no rebates given for either of the FCEVs. (It is also hard to find one within the price cap.) We’re not entirely sure about the consistency here, but range is the stated principle.
The amount of incentive given for a lease may not be as straightforward as it gets folded into the mathematics of the lease payment calculation by the dealer. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.
Many CT dealers are interconnected with the DMV/CHEAPR and will handle the paperwork. They often just take the incentive off the price of the vehicle they deliver. It saves the work of filing for the rebate, but we recommend carefully reviewing the invoice with the dealer in order to accurately set expectations regarding the price.
There are other requirements associated with CHEAPR. Eligible vehicles must have an MSRP below $50,000. (Originally, the cap was set at $60,000.) This makes ineligible a number of expensive EV entrants such as the Tesla Models S and X, Jaguar i-Pace, Audi e-Tron, and others. The Tesla Model 3 is eligible for the lower trim levels. It is possible to get the long-range (310-mile) Model 3 for under $50,000. We expect there to be trim levels of the forthcoming Model Y that will also be eligible, based upon what we see on the Tesla website. With respect to the FCEVs, the Honda Clarity base trim price is $59,365, Toyota Mirai is $59,430, Hyundai Tucson – $50,875 (FCEV base prices are from Car and Driver). Based on these MSRPs, it would appear they would all be too expensive to qualify, but they are listed as eligible on the CHEAPR website. We are only aware of the availability of these vehicles via lease. If you’re going that route, it seems prudent to verify the eligibility before concluding the transaction.
Unlike the Federal tax credit, which is associated with each vehicle, the CHEAPR rebate is tied to the person receiving it. This rebate can be claimed one time only. It can be used for multiple vehicles if different (licensed) members of the household are the registrant. Pro-tip: Don’t co-sign for a vehicle because you will both get dinged for the use of the rebate.
Where Can You Buy It
In order to be eligible, it is required that the vehicle be purchased from a dealer doing business in CT. (The dealer gets a little taste, too.) If you buy that Chevy Bolt from a dealer out of state and transfer the registration, you will not get the rebate. The exception to this is Tesla, which does not have dealers, and which has been barred by CT law from opening stores in the state. But the Model 3 trim levels that are below the price cap are eligible and Tesla will work with you on the admin.
New vs Used
This incentive applies to the purchase or lease of a new vehicle only. There is language in HB 7205 (line 142) authorizing DEEP to set income and incentive thresholds for purchases of used vehicles. We contacted DEEP for clarification and were advised that the rules as stated on their website are what govern eligibility, and these rules state, specifically, new vehicles only.
This is the link to the CHEAPR website. It lists all of the eligible vehicles as well as the rules and program stats.