How best to use $9,500 lease cash + $4,500 CVRP

Hi all, just joined today, first-time poster

I am trying to help my sis who just qualified for a trade-your-old-car program here in CA

You get $9,500 of lease cash, but only for pure EV (BEV) or plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEV)

Any advice on a best-case scenario for using this cash? (she also qualifies for the $4,500 CVRP rebate on 30-month+ leases)

My short list:

  • Kia Soul EV
  • Ford Focus EV
  • Nissan Leaf EV
  • BMW i3 (EV or REX PHEV)
  • Chevy Volt PHEV
  • Chevy Bolt EV

I ran the calculator on a couple of these (Ford / Nissan) and it seems like she could go negative? (i.e. the $9,500 pay-down is more than the depreciation). What happens in a scenario like this? Is that money “lost”?

Sorry if these are dumb questions, as I am new to this

Thanks all!

What is her commute like and does she have the ability to install or access a charging network?

I believe you can use the 9500 for purchase as well…

1 Like

Welcome @topaz024, I will let the pros chime in but with that sizable amount of $ you could look at some even nice plug-in hybrids. 330E, 530E, audi E-tron etc


As mung35 says really depends on how she will use the car and whether she has a place to charge the car.

If you are going BEV in most cases you will want to install a level 2 charger which will cost you $1,500 to $2,000 though you might get some rebates on that depending on where you are.

My wife and I just went through this and ended up with the BMW i3 REX. But that might not be the right car for your sister. We couldn’t do a BEV for various reasons which excluded most of the cars on your list.

It really does come down to the use case for the car. With that amount of money she can almost certainly have a free lease and probably several thousand in her pocket in a few months with the CVRP rebate.

1 Like

just for my edification, whats the program that gives you $9500?


She works from home so no commute, more of a city car for in-town runs, and she already has a 240V charging station installed at home

Thanks for the purchase info–that is on the table as well, I just had this side idea that since they allowed leases as well, that it could be interesting to combine the 9,500 + 4,500 + (up to) 7,500 = 21,500 off

I think things get even more interesting on cars with giant CCRs like the Leaf (13,500?), which could turn a brand-new 30k car into a $4,000 car. I think it might be better to have a new Leaf w/30kWh battery for $4k than an off-lease 2013 with a degraded battery for free.

The i3 looks to have some interesting opportunities too if she’s up for Turo-ing it when not in use, although she would have no shot at buying this one (unlike the Leaf), as she is genuinely low-income

It’s the SoCal Air Quality Management District “Replace Your Ride Program” ( --started 2 years ago but it’s been run/promoted not very well, so I’m shocked they still have funds available

Depending on zip code/income level/type of car, you can get anywhere from 4k to 9.5k for scrapping an old gas guzzler (all it has to do is run enough to travel 1/4-mile and have been registered in your name for the 2 years prior to your program application)

I never imagined the program would last 2 years–someone could have bought a $400 clunker off of Craigslist 2 years ago and apply for the program today!

Thanks! Wow, hadn’t even considered that. I only see the B-class on their list ( ) – although the list hasn’t been updated in 2 years(!). I had to email a project manager to discover that the Bolt qualified! This program is not very organized

Yeah she barely drives at all, so perhaps just a used off-lease EV for around $9k (=free) is her best option. She was just steering towards a Fiat 500e which doesn’t offer any kind of DC level 3 fast-charging, of which she doesn’t seem to understand the importance (as an owner of a non-QC and QC Leaf, it’s been a game-changer for me)

Thanks everyone!

You do not have to use all $9500+$4500. The $4,500 check is mailed to you with your name on the check. All you have to think is to spend the $9,500. I think it cost more than $9,500 to lease BMW i3 for 30 months

1 Like

If she is low income she likely will not benefit from the $7,500 tax credit. She has to have $7,500 in Federal taxes due to make that work. That’s one reason to lease instead of buying.

However if the program works with used cars you can look for one that has already had the credits taken on it and depreciated as a result. That 500e you mentioned would be pretty much a free car then. Of course you can’t get the state rebate on a used car either, she would just be looking at the $9,500 cash.

The 500e is the king of the low priced used EVs. Leafs are probably second. Volts look like they are starting at $10,000 which would give her a car that can also run on gas longer distances.

Yes, she could be driving a very, very nice car with all those incentives available. But it sounds like she will be better off with a car she ends up owning rather than renting one for 3 years and then being forced into a car payment. If you held a gun to my head and said pick now I’d say go find a Volt. It is more usable and less trouble than the Fiat and the Leaf you worry about the long term life of the batteries.

1 Like

@Tirpitz - how did you get an i3? There are no BMW dealers on the RYR dealer list. Did you get it used? CarMax? I’d like a used i3 or Audi a3 e-tron myself, but not sure how to get one.

We got our i3 through Greg Poland at Pacific BMW. It was leased and was not part of the RYR program. We were not trading a car so RYR wasn’t relevant. Also it was over two years ago so things change.

Used i3’s seem to be running $15K-$25K depending on the year and milage Strongly suggest you not get a 2014 though. That was the first year and they had a lot of issues.

I haven’t kept track of A3 e-tron prices. If you can stomach shorter range (80 miles) you can get a VW e-Golf for about $10K used.

Best way to find them is to use a site like and run a search.

Considering the current deals the Bolt would be best…especially if this will be her fist ev. Sure she can stretch with so much rebates cash but if she truly is low income she really shouldn’t. The problem is you need to find a dealer that will actually give you the 9k and not cancel the other current manufacturer credits but add them up.
If it was me i would take the $10k off msrp that VW has for the eGolf + the $9500 grant + $4500 cvrp (+ utility?)…and buy the car for about $11k after everything…then take off any fed liability at tax time…since this is in Ca i bet she has at least $4k there, maybe more.

Lol…didn’t even notice the zombie thread…woosh…

Any reason why we are opening a thread from 2 years ago?

1 Like

The first 8 posts were so riveting, it needed to be revived.