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You could get up to $20,000 off the price of an electric car — if you live in San Diego

You could get up to $20,000 off the price of an electric car — if you live in San Diego


The city’s power company offers $10,000 off the price of BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf on top of other state and federal incentives

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BMW i3 charging

California already has some of the most generous incentives to get an electric car, but people living in San Diego are being further enticed to go the plug-in route.

Through September 30th, San Diego Gas & Electric will offer its utility customers $10,000 toward a BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf. That’s in addition to the state of California’s offer of up to $2,500 in rebates on plug-ins, as well as the $7,500 federal tax credit. Depending on models, SDG&E customers could get up to $20,000 in credits and rebates. That’s a huge amount of incentives, especially on a Nissan Leaf that starts at $31,565. The utility company also offers an annual bill credit of up to $200 for driving an electric vehicle.

Depending on models, San Diego residents could get up to $20,000 in credits and rebates

There are some details to the program, which started August 1, potential customers may want to take note of first, aside from the fact you need to live in San Diego County and have proof of your utility bill. And right now, the state of California has been issuing the $2,500 rebates to low-income households first, so the wait for that check may be longer than expected.

And while the program is scheduled to last through September, it’s also dependent on inventories at participating dealerships.

SDG&E also says only certain dealers are involved in the program. Only one BMW dealership, BMW of San Diego, is participating in the program. As of Monday afternoon, their site lists 35 i3s in stock, ranging from roughly $45,000 to $55,000 before incentives. SDG&E is telling prospective customers to contact either Nissan or BMW if the exact Leaf or i3 they want isn’t at any of these dealerships.

Mossy Nissan operates seven dealerships in the San Diego area and lists just 15 Leafs in stock between all of them, ranging from about $34,000 to $40,000 before the incentives. A new Leaf is due to be revealed in production form in September and will likely to go on sale by the beginning of 2018. While you could get a great deal on a 2017 Leaf, it will very quickly be old news and have a less practical range than the new model.

A new Leaf is likely to go on sale by the beginning of 2018

A representative for SDG&E told The Verge BMW and Nissan were the only automakers that wanted to partner with the utility company for the promotion, though other companies are invited to join. The automakers paid for the incentives, so no “ratepayer funds” were used for the promotion, the spokesperson said.

Buying an electric car also presents new challenges in terms of plugging in and planning trips around limited ranges, which we’ve recently pointed out with this electric car buying guide. SDG&E says, however, that 43 percent of the power in its grid comes from renewable energy, and California is generally a good place for electricity with minimal carbon impact.