Owning an EV in California: Charging Cost, Incentives, and More

autonomous ev

Owning an EV in California: Charging Cost, Incentives, and More

Purchasing an electric vehicle comes with a fair few considerations beyond just the initial purchase. Much like a gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle, there are numerous factors to account for when planning your purchase.

California has been at the forefront of providing vital infrastructure for electric vehicles. The Golden State has had an exceptional amount of foresight in regard to EVs. Beyond the infrastructure, there are a number of incentives and perks available for those purchasing an EV in California.

Let’s take a look at the true cost of owning an EV in the state.

Charging Infrastructure for EVs in California

California leads the nation in charging infrastructure. Most other states are overwhelmingly behind California in regard to providing easily accessible public chargers. Currently, California has over 80,000 chargers in the state, with 36,499 accounting for public chargers.

There are a fair few private chargers available as well, at 43,528 in total. These are dispersed in the hundreds across the various counties in California, with Los Angeles county having the most. The high availability of level 2 and DC fast chargers across most municipalities makes it one of the top states to consider when purchasing an EV.

California has taken things a step further and invested billions in providing incentives to companies choosing to provide chargers for EVs. $5.5 billion dollars is being used to double the number of chargers in the state. Whatever the future may hold, California is due to be a haven for EV owners.

The Cost of Charging an Electric Vehicle in California

So, what does it cost to charge a vehicle in California? Unfortunately, California is the most expensive state in regard to the actual cost of electricity. While this won’t compare to the exorbitant cost of gasoline in the state, it does cost more to charge a vehicle in California than it would in a state like Texas or Kansas.

Using Rivian’s R1T as an example, owners can expect to spend around $18 to fully power the electric truck in Los Angeles. Pricing of electricity will vary from city to city, but the fact remains that powering the vehicle is more expensive than it would be in other states.

Tesla’s Model 3 costs even more to charge, as you need either a proprietary charging station at home or the use of one of the Superchargers unique to Tesla. The average cost of charging the vehicle in Los Angeles is nearly $30 to fully power it.

The Nissan Leaf is another popular EV, and LA residents can expect to spend $13 or so to charge it fully. The Nissan Leaf has one of the smaller batteries on the market, but quite affordable to power even by Californian power costs.

Ford’s F-150 Lightning has a massive battery compared to some of the others out there, yet it has a similar cost to the Leaf, oddly. Compared to the Rivian, the F-150 Lightning comes in at an affordable $13 to fully charge.

The costs are much less than a gasoline-powered car, but the difference in electrical prices is well-worth the consideration. One can’t help but marvel at the overall savings, especially with gasoline prices averaging around $5 in California over the last year.

2023 BMW i7 vs 2023 Lucid Air Pure
The cost to charge your EV in California depends on various factors, including your particular car model.


Incentives for EV Customers in California

California offers a clean vehicle rebate for those purchasing a new EV in the state. This doesn’t just cover EVs, but also hydrogen cells and hybrid vehicles. These rebates can be in the thousands of dollars returned after proof of purchase is provided.

There are some other incentives for just purchasing an EV in California. Rebates from the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program work alongside the Clean Cars For All initiative. The CCFA’s ultimate aim is to do away with older, high-pollution vehicles and provide affordable means for those in lower income brackets to obtain an EV. Rebates in this initiative range from $2,000 to $9,500, which when combined with the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project makes the initial purchase an affordable prospect.

The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project is more of a blanket rebate, aimed at all alternative fuel sources. This is applicable to EVs, and there are numerous rebates available for EVs made by a variety of manufacturers. Purchasers in lower income brackets also qualify for rebates, providing further incentive for those seeking to replace their old clunkers. One wouldn’t typically think of lower income households being prone to adopting such a new wave of technology given market trends, but California seems to want people of all economic strata to drive EVs.

California’s extensive rebate and incentive packages fit the state’s aim of eliminating gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles.

How is California’s EV Support?

California leads the country when it comes to providing support and infrastructure for purchasers of EVs. While it is not the cheapest state in the entire country to operate and own a vehicle, it does have massive support for alternative fueling methods for vehicles. In regard to EVs, California has led the charge into wider adoption and normalization of the steadily growing market segment emerging around them.

Couple the wide charging infrastructure with the numerous rebates and incentives available, and you have a cocktail leading to a hopeful boom of adoption in the state. California is just getting started in regard to its push toward the adoption of EVs, and it might just be a matter of time before the rest of the country follows in its adoption.

Breaking EV News

June 8, 2023 — At the start of 2024, Tesla will grant access to 12,000 of its Superchargers to owners of Ford and General Motors (GM) EVs using a special adaptor. At the beginning of 2025, Ford and GM EVs will feature Tesla’s North American Charging Standard connector.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many electric chargers are in California?

There are over 83,000 available chargers in the state of California. Each individual county in the state has hundreds with the highest concentration of chargers in Los Angeles county. Roughly half of the available chargers are publicly owned, being available to all residents of the state. The other half are privately owned, meaning they operate with businesses and other enterprises to provide vehicle charging.

This comes as little surprise to those following the news surrounding EVs. California has been a testbed of sorts to see how the nation will react to wider adoption rates and public infrastructure heavily skewed toward alternative fuel sources.

Does California provide tax rebates for purchasing electric vehicles?

California has a fair few incentives present for those considering an EV. Tax credits and rebates are readily available, with California residents qualifying for the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit and the federally provided tax credits available.

California has steadily been pushing towards the adoption of EVs, and as such there are numerous locally available incentives. Programs like the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, Vehicle Retirement Consumer Assistance Program, and Replace Your Ride provide thousands of dollars in credits available for local residents.

Are there affordable EVs?

Electric vehicles run the gamut in terms of prices. You have affordable models like the Hyundai Kona EV, Chevy Bolt, and Kia EV6 which are generally under the $50,000 suggested retail price. This extends to truly premium vehicles, like the Rivian R1T, which is priced in the range of most entry-level luxury vehicles.

Pricing is still high for EVs, but costs are decreasing as the technologies driving them mature. It is still relatively early in the tech’s life cycle to be affordable to everyone, but thankfully, there are numerous programs potential customers can take advantage of to bring the price at least down.

Is California EV-friendly?

California is perhaps the most EV-friendly state in the entire country. While other states may have lower rates for charging EVs, California far surpasses them in the infrastructure available publicly and privately. This makes the state a fairly enticing place to actually own and operate an EV.

While other states may have the edge in terms of the overall cost to operate them, California makes it a point to foster an environment where EVs can continue to grow and prosper as they find their place in the vehicle market.

Are there extra costs associated with owning an EV?

That varies heavily depending on your location. EVs are subject to the same rates of taxation as any other automobile. When first purchasing you will likely have to pay the other fees necessary for registering the title and obtaining the license plate and accompanying tag.

Overall, the extra costs you might associate with an EV are comparable to a regular automobile. You’ll still be paying for things like brakes, tires, and regular maintenance, it just comes in a different form than heading to your local mechanic.

To top