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Dive Brief:

  • A few Hawaii electric utilities looking to foster electric vehicle adoption have offered rebates as high as $10,000, making a significant dent in the new purchase price, particularly when paired with other incentives.
  • In Hawaii, both Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative and Hawaiian Electric Co. are offering rebates for a new Nissan Leaf, with the offer running through March.
  • Kansas City Power & Light offered a similar deal last year with Nissan, but its incentive expired earlier this month. According to Fortune, the deal made a new Leaf available for less than $12,000 last year.

Dive Insight:

As battery prices decline and utilities see electric vehicles as an opportunity, more are offering hefty rebates to get consumers behind the wheel. Combined with federal incentives, a $10,000 rebate and in some areas free charging, the affordability could entice more customers.

Kauaʻi Island broke down the math for customers, touting $17,500 in total rebates, a 107-mile range to the 2017 Leaf model, "which needs no gasoline, no oil changes and very little maintenance." The vehicle lists at about $31,000.

Hawaii, with abundant solar energy and a relatively small geographic area, is looking to harness the power of electric vehicles. In urban areas, there is also the opportunity for consumers to purchase them as a second vehicle, experts say. 

Hawaiian Electric senior vice president Shelee Kimura said the utility's offer is an example of its Drive Electric Hawaii efforts, a part of the state's 100% renewables goal. The rebate can help customers "save money, reduce tailgate emissions and help break our state’s dependence on fossil fuels," said Kimura.

KCP&L's generous rebate has now expired, but the utility is known for its aggressive move towards EVs. It started with just 50 drivers in its territory in 2015, and now has more than 1,200, the result of a broad charging station rollout.

There are about 500,000 electric vehicles on the roads in the United States, a tiny amount compared to 250 million total vehicles. EV sales peaked in 2014, at 0.72% of total sales, and fell slightly in 2015 when gas prices fell. California leads the country in electric vehicle adoption, with about 20% of the nation's emissions-free vehicles on the road.