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Chevrolet Volt Tax Incentives and Rebates

Clean Vehicle Rebate Project

To incentivize the adoption of Electric Vehicles like the Volt, the Federal Government as well as many state governments have programs in place to subsidize the high cost of an electric car like the Volt.  In this article, I will discuss in detail eligibility for federal and California subsidies.  In addition, depending on your electric utility, you can apply for reduced Electricity Rates during off hours for electric car charging. Feel free to jump in if you know more about your state!

If you are thinking about buying a Chevrolet Volt, your eligibility for the $7500 Federal rebate, as well as a potential $5000 now only $1500 (as of 2012) California Rebate will surely have a significant impact on your purchasing decision.  Combined this is as much at $12,500 in government incentives on a car that many expect will MSRP for over $40,000.  These rebate programs however are not unlimited in their funding.


Federal Rebate Program

Updated 5/5/2012:  Check out the updated Federal EV Tax credit Form 8936 FAQ’s on the Form 8936 Example Page

Updated 2/26/2011:  Here is an example submission of form 8936

Updated 2/4/2011:  You claim this with form 8936 – Plug In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit

Original Post 7/10/2010:

First, we’ll look at the Federal Rebate program.  For full details you can visit the federal energy tax credit site for electric vehicles.  But I have condensed and summarized the important points below.

  1. The First 200,000 Chevrolet Volt’s qualify for $7500 in federal tax credits (After which there is a phase out schedule).  Given the production volume, if you buy in the first couple of years you’ll be good.
  2. This credit can be claimed on your tax refund.  (If you manage to buy the car in 2010 – and do your taxes early without extension, this would be fastest way to get the federal credit)
  3. As far as I know – the tax credit is “non-refundable” meaning that if after the credit, you no tax liability for the year, you won’t get the maximum benefit from the credit.  Assuming that you have no other deductions but a standard deduction however, this threshold is met with wages of $55,000 / year or more.  (Realistically though, you probably need to make at least that much to afford a Volt – and probably more

California Rebate Program

Update 3/18/2012

You can now apply for $1500 in purchase rebates.  Check out the updated California Chevy Volt Rebates and HOV Lane 2012 Post here.

Update 11/28/2011: GM Announced recently that it will make available a special emissions package for 2012 Model Year Volts.  This extra low emissions package will allow the Volt to qualify for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program by achieving the AT-PZEV designation.  The original technological challenge for reducing particulate emissions has been overcome.  You can order a Volt today with the low emissions package, but be sure to check with your dealer when you order as these models will probably not deliver until March of 2012 or later.

Final details for applying for the expected $1500 rebate are not yet posted for the Chevrolet Volt, but you can check the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program site for updates.

Update 7/15/2010: It looks like the initial release of the Volt will not qualify for any current California subsidies.  This is because the emissions package available at Volt launch (and associated certifications) to attain AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology – Partial Zero Emmisions Vehicle) Status will not be in place.  Something else may happen, but it looks like Leaf will be getting all the benefit from this!

To Qualify for AT-PZEV, automakers need to pass a battery of certification tests, and also the equipment needed in the Internal Combustion Engines requires more expensive components and time to develop.  Seeing as the Volt is a new release vehicle, its unfortunate, but IMO not a bad business decision for GM not to try to cram this in.  (Might delay the actual vehicle launch)

On the roadmap, Volt will have an AT-PZEV emissions package by mid 2012, but the credit will have long since been depleted.  An E85 version is also in the works.

Older Comments:

The California Rebate program is not run out of the FTB (Or Franchise Tax Board)  Instead it is run through a program from the California Air Resources Board (CARB).  The Clean Vehicle Rebate project has $3.75 million in funding for electric car / plug in hybrid rebates.  When that fund is depleted, no more rebates!  Keep in mind that this fund is shared with all electric cars like the LEAF in California.  As of 7/7/2010, about 6% of the program budget is depleted.  (The program started in March, 2010).  The site does not say yet whether the Volt will classify for a $5,000 rebate for EV’s or a $3,000 rebate for PHEV’s.  I’ve contacted them to ask for clarification.

Keep in mind that of the 6% budget depletion has occured in 4 months before mass market vehicles like the Volt or Leaf have hit the market.  Currently the only available qualifying vehicles are Teslas, some medium sized commercial trucks, and electric bikes.  This is of concern because the budget will deplete much faster than the Federal Rebate – my guess is that it will be all gone fairly quickly given that assuming $3 million is left by November, and the Volt qualfies for $5,000 in credits, that only means 600 Volt/Leaf owners will be able to get the credit – assuming no other vehicles go mass market.  Now California may add more to this budget, but don’t count on it given the state’s fiscal status.

To get this rebate, you need to gather a whole bunch of documentation that show you bought the vehicle, as well as prove/maintain the following criteria.

  1. Own or lease the car for 36 months consecutively.
  2. Register the car in California for 36 months consecutively.
  3. Prove California Residency

If you don’t maintain this, they may come looking for you asking for the rebate money back.  So early buyers who are planning on flipping the car won’t get any benefit from federal/state tax credits.

For complete info visit the Center for Sustainable Energy California


California HOV Lane Access –

Update 3/18/2012

You can now apply for the Green HOV Stickers in California.  Check out the updated California Chevy Volt Rebates and HOV Lane 2012 Post here.

Update 11/28/2011

Current California owners of certain battery electric vehicles can take advantage of driving in HOV lanes with only a single rider if you apply for and get a White Label HOV Lane sticker.  Current Chevrolet Volts are not eligible for the same reasons as the rebate above previously, but newer models with the low emissions package will be eligible.

You can check out more about the pending HOV lane stickers for AT-PZEV vehicles here.


PG&E Electric Vehicle Charging Preferred Rates

PG&E services the San Francisco Bay Area as well as other parts the West Coast.  Many other electric utilities probably also have EV programs, so post your local data if you find out any in your area.  For PG&E however, you can qualify for lower off peak electricity rates if you own an electric vehicle and charge it at home.  For PG&E it’s the E9 rate schedule, or in summarized form, if you don’t use a ton of electricity to begin with you can get Off peak charging rates at low as $0.06 per Kw*H.  Pretty cool huh?

Of course, you have to actually opt into this program with your utility, and have a smart time of day meter installed.

added 12/12/2010:  Check out the complete analysis of On vs Off Peak Charging with PG&E and their E-9 electricity rates for Electric Cars!


Level 2 – 240 Volt EV Charging Equipment and Installation Rebates

added 12/26/2010

Check out my newest article on how to get 240 Volt Level 2 Charging installed for your home with the Chevrolet Volt - including rebates, installation timing, and other details.

27 Responses to “Chevrolet Volt Tax Incentives and Rebates”

  1. Tom Worden says:

    I am considering installing a solar array to charge the Volt. I need to know what is the max current draw on the 115 volt line and how does it drop over the length of a full charge. The kind of information I would need to size an inverter and battery bank to assure a full charge.

    • Ron Miller says:

      Visit Chevyvoltsolarcharger.com for pricing and availability on a solar charging system for your Chevy Volt. They even offer solar parking canopies ro charge your volt with.

    • Chris says:

      Hi Tom,

      You should really consider just installing a PV system thats tied to your home’s service panel commonly known as ‘grid-tied’. This will allow you to reduce the electric consumption of the whole home which is inevitably impacted by the Volt’s consumption of kWh.

      When you start getting into solar systems that require batteries or ones that are being built to address a specific load versus a whole home system you are often driving up the costs of what is already a pricey home improvement.

  2. PatrickZWang says:

    I am assuming you are planning not to load – level by connecting your solar array back to the grid but to keep it totally separate from the grid?

    That’s an interesting a very detailed question! I’m fairly certain they haven’t released that specific technical spec yet for the charge profile – though I do believe that the standard implementation at 110 Volt calls for a 15 amp rated circuit. It has a 8 Kw*h available pack that charges in just over 8 hours, so adding any efficiency loss I would guess the charger would draw on average 10-12 amps. (No idea how the current draw peters out – but it is 8 Kw*h of charge from empty)

    Sorry for not having a more detailed explanation. I am soon going to start a Chevy Volt Owners forum so hopefully others like you can post questions and answers there for such information! I know you’re not the only one with a solar array looking to charge the volt with it.

  3. Tom Worden says:

    I believe a 15 Amp circuit will deliver approx. 1800 Watts of power so a 2000 Watt inverter should be adequate. Now to size the battery bank to be sure to deliver full 12 Volt input to the inverter for the entire length of the charge with some reserve, as the charging will mostly be done at night with no recharge via “el sol”.

    Thanks for your input, it helps my thought process.

  4. PatrickZWang says:

    I found just recently on the Consumer reports site that they said a 20 amp 110v circuit, but I will try to find out when I goto Detroit this week. Perhaps one of the engineers at the Battery Lab can tell me. Not sure how much a 2Kw inverter costs, but you might hold off on that until there is a firm number out.

    Others have asked whether its possible to do DC Charging, I think the answer so far was “Yes it’s possible” don’t know what that means in the context of the special plug that is used – or whether a special configuration would need to be made on the car. I’ll try to ask when I go to Detroit about this.

  5. Tom Worden says:

    Did you find any more about the circuit size required to charge the Volt?

    • PatrickZWang says:

      Hi Tom,

      Unfortunately no – I didn’t get any specifics on the amperage over time (not enough time with the battery engineers). I did ask about DC to DC Charging, which although is technically possible, would not be offered since there is already in inverter in line in the Volt.

      One interesting tidbit though is that the Volt will never 100% charge, it will be computer limited not to get to full charge, so I don’t know if you will see an appreciable drop in amperage near the end of the charge.

      The number which is 8Kw*h of charge over a period of 8-9 hours though was confirmed. Whether that is a consistant charge curve over time is left to be seen.

      Hope that helps!


  6. Tom Worden says:

    Thanks for you input, Patrick. Yesterday I put my name on the list at my local dealer.

  7. Mark Rauch says:

    If you sell the Volt back to GM because of the fire hazzard do you still keep the tax credit?

    • Dennis says:

      There’s no fire hazard. The one incident was on a tested vehicle that sustained a side crash that punctured the battery compartment. The fire started seven days later. The puncture was considered quite rare, but Fed Safety folks had GM increase the thickness of the protective barrier around the battery. The regular protocol on gas powered cars is to empty gas tank and disconnect car battery after a major crash. The Volt requires this too, plus the Ion-Lithium battery to be discharged. I’m not an expert, heard all this on CNN House Committee investigating incident.

  8. Naysayer says:

    Do you mean *hazard*? If you’re going to critique the Volt publicly, do yourself a favor & check your spelling so you have at least a small measure of credibility …

  9. Dennis says:

    8kwh per charge per day, assuming 17mi round trip commute, yields ~$1.00 per charge, assuming 9cents/kwh

    Gas for the equivalent 35 mi round trip ~$3.70, assuming 35mpg and $3.70/gallon.

    That’s a three to one advantage. Other concerns are how much a replacement battery costs at battery end of life. Assuming $5,000, for an average 80,000mile, yields ~6.25 cents per mile. For our 35 mile round trip, battery replacement costs at $2.18 which now totals $3.18 vs $3.70 for operating costs. Obviously, regular maintenance, i.e. tires and other mechanical costs not factored.

    • Frank says:

      You shouldn’t factor in battery at 80k miles, as it has a 10-year/150,000 mile warranty.

      Also, the “regular maintenance” is almost nothing. Put air in the tires. In 10-years, it probably won’t need brakes. You would have several sets of tires. Ten oil changes. An air filter, maybe. Probably wear out a couple of charging cords.

      So, at $3.70 gas, it is worthwhile. At $6 gas, it is a no-brainer.

  10. jefro says:

    Not really correct calculations. First is that the battery should last at least 80K miles. That may mean average city users could still operate this well beyond that point. Then there is a core value to the battery system.

    You can not use PV cells to do any “green” choice. It takes more energy to produce a PV cell than they could ever product. Current silicon based cells are only being sold that have all sorts of phoney numbers. Trade differences, built in areas where hydroelectric and other import and tax reasons suggest you might save money but in truth you are killing the earth.

    The Volt is not a cheap product. It is like any first generation product that cost a lot and still has some bugs. Every consumer product has been the same way. The first PC’s were like $4K and didn’t last long enough for people to pay them off. How about the original color TV? Plasma display? 8 Track you name it. When you buy a Volt you are buying into the future.

    Another issue is OPEC and imported oil. If you want to get rid of that issue, then you need to buy into a new way to power the US.

  11. H Glantz says:

    Does anyone know i there is still money in this federal program. I am in PA so I know there is little else on a state base

  12. jbfalaska says:

    Just go tied to the grid. The solar sends power to the grid every waking minute, and then when you’re actually plugged in, you get it back. Let the system work for you. Easier, cost effective.

  13. Amy says:


    Can you tell me what the potential 5000 California rebate you mentioned in the article is? I can only find $1500 from clean vehicle rebate program?


    • PatrickZWang says:

      Hi Amy,

      Sorry that line was from way back in 2010 when the original article was written – I have updated it to reflect 2012. In fact, the Volt never quite got full certification for the $5000 rebate.


  14. AngelT says:

    Bought Volt 2011, electrical problems, GM buys car back and give us new one do we qualify for the tax credits again since this is a new loan? Do we have to return the tax credit from lemon car ($7500.00).

  15. funny to read all the bull on the net and the real fear the big oil companys have about the volt..i am going to lease one because of several reasons. one ..it will pay the lease per month on money saved on gas..two ..it will help get us off the tit of middle eastern oil and three..i can build equity towards the new volt three yrs from now and it is something we can export and claim as our own!

  16. Gale says:

    Hello I purchased a Volt just this month and am not sure about how to go about getting the rebates and refunds the dealer told us about when we purchased it. Can anyone please help lead me down the correct path so that I can get everything that is offered for having this car ?

    Thank you in advance

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