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Drive Clean Chronicles: Incentives & Fuel Savings Fund A Fiat 500e

Caesar loved his vintage Italian sports car, which he used to commute to work each day. Because his commute was long, he was very attracted to the fuel efficiency of electric vehicles. But, his car did get relatively good mileage (up to 40 MPG), and he wanted to use the vehicle to its full life, knowing how many resources go into manufacturing a single car.

Then, in late 2018, a car accident in their family car forced his hand. He needed an immediate replacement vehicle so someone else in the family could use his car.

State Support for an Electric Vehicle

Caesar’s employer, a Tesla owner and electric car advocate, directed him to the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program (CVAP) website where he was able to apply for a clean vehicle grant. A statewide pilot program, the CVAP offers down payment grants and affordable financing to low- and moderate-income California residents for the purchase of a new or used hybrid or plug-in electric vehicle.  The program also offers qualified applicants a free Level 2 home charger, which is installed at no cost through GRID Alternatives.

It only took a couple of weeks for Caesar to be approved for the grant, and he spent the interim time researching.

Finding the Right Fit

He needed a car that would get him to and from work, about a 50-mile round trip, and that could handle light errands. His wife and two older children had cars that would permit longer-range trips. With this in mind, he browsed online for an affordable, used electric vehicle. He settled on a 2015 Fiat 500e with an 84-mile range on a fully charged battery.

Caesar took his pre-approval to a local dealership. The dealership’s owner had not yet heard of the relatively new state CVAP program. However, the owner was able to apply immediately, and easily became a certified dealership with the CVAP – opening the door for Caesar to purchase the car there.

Financial Savings Add Up

In December, Caesar became the owner of the Fiat 500e. Caesar was able to receive just under $5,500 in financial incentives after purchasing his Fiat 500e, including a $5,000 down payment grant and free Level 2 charger through the CVAP. He also claimed the $450 Southern California Edison (SCE) Clean Fuel Rebate, which is available to anyone in SCE territory who purchases a new or used plug-in electric vehicle.1 Both the CVAP and SCE rebates are available for the purchase of new or used plug-in electric vehicles.

Four months into owning his electric vehicle, Caesar had put close to 8,000 miles on it. He estimates that his current fueling costs of $375 per year are about 75% less than when he relied on gasoline. That adds up to nearly $1,125 on fuel annually, and within two years, his gas savings will completely cover what he paid out of pocket for his Fiat 500e.

Charging Solutions

The range of the car is also working well for him. The car gets around 116 MPG equivalent and Caesar says that he can often exceed the 84-mile battery capacity by 10-20 miles due to the car’s efficient recapture of energy from braking in traffic and city driving.

While he waits for the installation of his Level 2 home charger to be completed, he is charging his car overnight at home with a standard 110-V electrical outlet. His employer, as a fellow EV driver and environmental advocate, installed both a Tesla charger and Level 2 ChargePoint station for employees to use at no cost. The ability to charge his vehicle at work allows Caesar to make extra stops outside of his normal commute, or to top off so that he doesn’t have to charge at home some nights.

A New Italian Love

What Caesar loved about his vintage car was its relative fuel efficiency (it got up to 40 MPG) and the superb handling. In his electric Fiat 500e, he has found a worthy replacement that not only far outstrips his previous gas mileage, but also handles like a dream. He hopes that more people will realize that electric cars are faster, more efficient, and more affordable than many high-end performance sports cars today.

Caesar plans to make his next vehicle purchase an EV with a little more range, but first intends to use (and enjoy) his Fiat 500e to its full life.

** The Clean Vehicle Assistance Program is currently not accepting new applicants while they prepare to launch an expanded version of the program in late 2019. 

Sign up here to be notified when the program is back online, and to receive news and updates about other EV related topics!

Jennifer Hernandez-Munoz

Jennifer joined CEC in late 2018 as an energy assistant. Her focus is creating an Electric Vehicle Blueprint for Ventura County.Before joining CEC, she interned with Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) working on environmental justice issues in Ventura County. This was part of their work with the Clean Energy 805 Coalition.Jennifer has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Jennifer Hernandez-Munoz

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