About the DRIVE ProgramAbout DRIVE

Driving Rhode Island to Vehicle Electrification (DRIVE) is an Electric Vehicle (EV) rebate program administered by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) to support adoption of electric vehicles by Ocean State drivers.

Program Summary

The Rhode Island State Energy Plan states that the transportation sector accounts for 40% of total statewide energy expenditures, releasing 4.5 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere annually. Alternative clean transportation solutions, such as electric vehicles, can reduce consumer fuel costs, mitigate emissions from the transportation sector, and enhance local energy security by reducing demand for foreign-sourced fuels.

DRIVE is designed to fill a significant gap in the State’s clean energy portfolio and facilitate adoption of EVs by local consumers. Through DRIVE, qualified Rhode Island residents interested in purchasing or leasing a EV will be able to apply for a rebate of up to $2,500, based upon vehicle battery capacity. Modeled closely on existing rebate programs offered in other states, DRIVE offers the potential to increase the total number of EVs on Rhode Island roadways by 20-35%.

Vehicle Eligibility

To be eligible for a DRIVE rebate, a vehicle must be listed on OER’s DRIVE Eligible Vehicle List at the time of purchase or lease. The purchase or lease must be executed on or after the program start date of January 29, 2016. Electric vehicles purchased or leased prior to this date will not qualify for a DRIVE incentive. This list will be updated periodically as vehicle models are approved. If a new vehicle meets the eligibility requirements set forth in this section, OER will calculate the rebate amount and add the vehicle to the DRIVE Eligible Vehicle List. Such vehicles will be eligible for DRIVE rebates prospectively, based upon the effective date of its addition to the list. ***Vehicles must be purchased or leased from a licensed Rhode Island franchised new auto dealer***.

Eligible Rhode Island residents can qualify for a maximum of one (1) DRIVE rebate. Businesses, non-profit organizations, state and municipal governments, and other non-individual applicants are not eligible to apply to DRIVE at this time.

Rebate Amounts

Eligible electric vehicle rebate amounts are as follows:

Rebate Amount Required Battery Capacity Eligible Vehicle Examples
$2,500 Greater than 18 kWh BMW i3 or i3 REx; Chevrolet Volt (2016MY); FIAT 500e; Ford Focus Electric; Mercedes Benz B-Class Electric Drive; Nissan LEAF; Volkswagen e-Golf;
$1,500 7 to 18 kWh Chevrolet Volt (2015MY); Ford C-MAX Energi; Ford Fusion Energi; Mitsubishi i-MiEV; Smart ED
$500 Less than 7 kWh Toyota Prius Plug-In (2015MY)

Application Process and Qualifications

There will be a two-step process for potential applicants interested in participating in DRIVE.  Only Rhode Island residents with a vehicle registered in the Ocean State will be eligible for the program.  Incentives will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

STEP 1: Upon purchase or lease of a qualified vehicle, eligible Rhode Island residents must complete and submit a DRIVE application to OER. This will reserve an individuals place in the application queue. Applicants should frequenly check the "Available Funding" page or contact OER directly to ensure adequate funds are available before applying. The DRIVE application must be submitted electronically or mailed to:

Attn: DRIVE Rebate Program
R.I. Office of Energy Resources
1 Capitol Hill, 4th Floor
Providence, Rhode Island 02908

STEP 2: Qualified applicants will have an additional thirty (30) business days from the date of their approved application to submit all required support documentation, as specified on the DRIVE application. Supporting documents must be sent via USPS to the address listed above. All documents should be mailed in one envelope. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS.  Documentation includes, but is not limited to:

  1. A copy of the Rhode Island registration for the electric vehicle;
  2. A copy of the signed and executed sales or lease contract with an itemization of credits, discounts and incentives received;
  3. Residency verification (i.e. copy of license or other appropriate form of identification).  Registration information will be verified by OER with the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV); 
  4. A copy of a signed and completed W-9 form.

Applicants can expect to receive their incentive payment within four to six (4-6) weeks from the date of submitting their completed application.  Applicants which do not meet established program deadlines will have their reservation cancelled and may re-apply, pending availability of funding. Processing times may vary. For additional information, please download a copy of our guidance handbook.

Projected Impact

As of October 2015, there are 421 EVs registered in Rhode Island.  Given the uptake in both the Massachusetts’ MOR-EV and Connecticut’s CHEAPR programs, OER believes that DRIVE (at current funding levels) could add between 80 – 150 new EVs on local roadways.  This would represent a 20 – 35 percent increase in EV adoption in Rhode Island.


*** Tesla electric vehicles are exempted from this locational requirement.  Instead, qualified Rhode Island residents are allowed to purchase a new Tesla from a licensed franchised auto dealer in neighboring Connecticut or Massachusetts and apply for incentives through DRIVE.