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Can Californians afford electric cars? Wait lists for rebates are long and some programs have shut down

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Ford Mustang Mach Es

Ford Mustang Mach Es are shown in 2021 at a Ford dealership. 

When Tulare resident Quentin Nelms heard California was offering a hefty state subsidy to help lower-income residents buy electric cars, he applied right away.

But it wasn’t as easy as he thought it would be. 

Nelms spent four months on a waitlist before he was accepted into one of the state’s clean-car incentive programs in January. He qualified for $9,500 that he planned to use to buy a 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E. But after discovering that several dealerships had raised the car’s price by more than $10,000 during the time it took to get the grant, he could no longer afford the roughly $53,000 cost.

CalMatters Photo

Quentin Nelms, who lives in Tulare, qualified for a state subsidy but the electric car's cost rose too fast. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local

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This article was republished with permission from CalMatters. You can read more coverage of California state government on


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