Pa. wants to help you buy an electric car

Buying an electric car? Pennsylvania can help.

If you act now, you can get a $3,500 rebate. That offer ends soon, though: there are only 56 rebates left.

But don’t fear.

The state’s Department of Environmental Protection has decided to extend the rebate program until June 30, offering $3,000 back for the next 500 electric cars sold.

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“We’re ready and willing to give additional incentives to purchase these vehicles,” said DEP’s Lynda Rebarchak.

She says the goal is making the state more environmentally friendly, improving air quality and cutting the need for foreign oil.

By offering perks for buying plug-in models such as the Nissan Leaf (starting as low as $27,700, after federal tax savings) or the Chevy Volt (as low as $31,645, after federal tax savings), the idea is to jump-start electric car sales, which have so far been sluggish. (I’m waiting on data from Experian on how many electric cars were sold in Pa. last year.)

UPDATE: From January to November of 2012, only 929 electric cars were sold in Pennsylvania, according to data supplied by Experian. That’s a tiny 0.2 percent of the 579,121 total cars sold statewide over the same timespan. That rate ranks the Keystone State 34th nationwide. In all of 2011, 220 electrics were sold in Pa.

“People will get more used to this new technology and make the switch,” said Rebarchak. “I think there may have been just some initial hesitation.”

The DEP has committed $3.3 million for a range of vehicle rebates since late 2011. The agency’s grant program includes smaller incentives for hybrid electric, natural gas and fuel-cell powered vehicles. You can even get $500 back for an electric scooter or motorcycle.

The rebate program, for which you have to apply (PDF), does not cover flex fuel, diesel or standard hybrid vehicles.

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