The Tesla Roadster taking to the test track

The Tesla Roadster taking to the test track

The Federal Government has already approved a number of different tax breaks for electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, but now California's CARB is getting in on the act in a more direct way - offering a $5,000 rebate to purchasers of qualifying electric vehicles. A confirmation letter received recently by Tesla Motors co-founder Martin Eberhard shows that the Roadster is one of the qualifying vehicles.

The news, revealed on Eberhard's blog, includes an image of the letter from Fueling Alternatives, an agency of the CARB and part of California's Center for Sustainable Energy. The rebate is a nice incentive, though it only amounts to a little less than 5% off the price of the $109,000 car. Still, in conjunction with federal tax deductions and the savings in fuel costs, the cost of becoming a true 'early adopter' is not as high as it once was.

Interestingly, the fact of the Roadster's eligibility hasn't been hawked as a selling point by Tesla, a fact which former CEO Eberhard calls into question on his site. There is a range of rebates available, depending on what the capabilities of the EV or alternative fuel vehicle are, with ZAP's tiny neighborhood EVs (NEVs) getting just $1,000 back, a range of natural gas conversions getting the mid-range $3,000 rebate, and only the Tesla Roadster eligible for the full $5,000 thanks to its status as a full-service highway-capable EV.

The Fueling Alternatives site lists all the vehicles eligible for the rebate and the amount they can receive, though the program will only last until March 31, 2009 or until funding runs out. Other restrictions on rebate eligibility include that the applicant must be a California resident and that the vehicle must be registered for use in California.