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TheStreet Open House

Why Electric Cars Are Selling in California: They're Free



Third, your employer may give you a car allowance if you get a car eligible for driving in the carpool lane.  This makes you happier as an employee, since you're not worrying about rush hour travel as much, so therefore the company assumes you will show up for work earlier.  Or whatever the theory is.

An example: as of 2013, Evernote -- a well-known software and service company -- offered its employees a $250 per month allowance to buy an eligible plug-in electric car such as the Chevy Spark.  $250 per month is $3,000 per year, or $18,000 for six years.

Now you're down to zero.  Free.

To summarize:

Car price:  $28,000
Federal tax credit:  $7,500
California state rebate:  $2,500
$250 per month employer subsidy:  $18,000 over 6 years
Net cost to you:  Zero

Yes, somewhere between the Federal government, the California government, and your employer, you could have a free car for six years. 

But wait, there's more!

Not only do Mr. & Mrs. California get a free electric car, but they also get free fuel.  Most public charging stations are free -- many even include free parking.  For example, if you live in Google's (GOOG) home town of Mountain View, just pull in at City Hall, park, and charge your car for free. It's particularly convenient if you are having dinner around there, or live within walking distance.

What about charging your car for free at work?  Absolutely! That's now a feature from an increasing number of employers.  A novelty as of 2009, workplace electric car charging has suddenly become almost as common a perk as employer-subsidized health care.  I have yet to see an employer in Silicon Valley charge for electric car charging (no pun!).  There is probably the rare exception somewhere, but I haven't seen it, and I've visited my fair share of Silicon Valley companies.

So, do you think that giving people a free car and free fuel increases electric car adoption? 

You betcha!

If you get off an airplane at the San Francisco or San Jose airport and drive for a few minutes, you will quickly see the phenomenon. Almost every new car seems to be either a Nissan (NSANY) Leaf, a Chevy Volt or a Tesla (TSLA) Model S. 

And now you know why. Free car, free fuel.

Nothing sells like free! 

What could possibly go wrong?

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