Sick of $6 a gallon for gas? The state will give you money to buy an electric car

As gas prices soar, Illinois residents can apply for up to $4,000 in rebates for electric vehicles as part of a new climate-fighting clean energy law.

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Cars on a crowded highway.

Pollution from cars and trucks is the biggest contributor in Illinois to global warming. The state is offering up to $4,000 in rebates to convince drivers to purchase electric vehicles.

Sun-Times file

The state is giving a nudge to drivers considering making the switch to electric cars, offering a rebate of up to $4,000 to buy a vehicle.

On Friday, Illinois began taking applications, with the biggest rebate provided for cars and trucks and a smaller rebate of $1,500 for motorcycles.

The incentives come as gas prices in Chicago top $6 a gallon. The new program was created as part of a major clean energy law passed last year. While the law largely focuses on the phaseout of coal and natural gas power, cars, trucks and other modes of transportation are the state’s biggest contributors to greenhouse gases that worsen the climate crisis.

Car and diesel emissions are also the cause of hundreds of deaths and illnesses across the state every year.

“Getting more electric cars on the road means cleaner air and fewer asthma attacks,” said Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health at Respiratory Health Association in Chicago.

The state will prioritize applications from low-income residents and the program’s website will include a running tally showing how many low-income residents participate in the program.

“It’s especially critical that more zero-emission vehicles show in environmental justice and low-income areas that now breathe the most air pollution and shoulder the biggest burdens from lung diseases,” Urbaszewski said.

A number of rules apply to the rebates, which are available for both new and used vehicles.

The vehicles must be all-electric, not hybrid models.

The buyer must be an Illinois resident and the vehicle must be bought from a state-licensed dealer.

The buyer must apply for the rebate within 90 days after purchasing the vehicle and must remain the owner for at least year. A number of documents are required, including the vehicle’s purchase invoice, vehicle registration and tax documents. The application must be mailed.

The application and full details are available online at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The state fund for the rebate program is $17.9 million and will continue as long as dollars remain. If the program is still funded four years from now, the rebates will be lower. Beginning July 1, 2026, the rebate for a car or truck purchase will be $2,000. That rebate falls to $1,500 July 1, 2028.


A relatively small number of cars in Illinois are electric. A challenge for the state in coming years will be to build out the charging infrastructure needed to meet future demand.


Electric vehicles are priced higher than their gas-fueled counterparts, though those prices have declined over the years as lower-priced models are introduced. Health advocates and other clean transportation proponents have pointed to potentially lower maintenance costs as well as soaring fuel prices.

The average price for an electric vehicle was just $64,000 in May, compared with just under $45,000 for a full-sized gas-powered car, according to Kelley Blue Book.

A relatively small number of electric vehicles are being driven across the state. Out of more than 4.6 million registered cars, only 44,658 were electric vehicles as of last month, records show. Just under 12,000 were in Cook County, another 7,000 were in DuPage County and around 5,500 were in Lake County, according to the Illinois Secretary of State.

In the coming years, the state will need to build out the infrastructure necessary to charge the expected larger number of electric vehicles.

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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