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Green Driver State Incentives in Illinois

Stop contributing to global warming? Size down your carbon footprint? These sound like great reasons to go green, but did you know saving the planet can also save you money? Check out the following green driver incentives aimed at encouraging Illinois residents to become eco-friendly drivers.

Please note that numerous incentives and related laws are evolving. Also consult your Secretary of State Vehicle Services Department office and the Alternative Fuels Data Center, whether you own an electric car, hybrid, or alternative fuel vehicle, or are in the market to buy a fuel-efficient car.

Reduced Vehicle Registration Fees for Illinois Electric Vehicles

The Illinois Secretary of State Vehicle Services Department offers discounted vehicle registration fees to residents who drive an electric vehicle (EV). Learn more on this and how to obtain EV license plates below.

Reduced Registration Fees for IL Electric Vehicles

Illinois vehicle registration fees for electric cars may not exceed $35 for a registration period of 2 years, or $18 per registration year, thanks to the reduced fee incentive. To determine how much you owe, consult the SOS Electric Vehicle License Plate Guide. For more on registering your vehicle with the IL Vehicle Services Department, refer to our car registration section.

How to Order IL Electric Vehicle License Plates

You can apply for electric vehicle license plates by:

  1. Completing the Affirmation for Electric Vehicle form.
  2. Calculating your license plate registration fees.
  3. Submitting the required fees and documentation* to the Springfield Secretary of State (SOS) office:

Secretary of State
Special Plates Division
501 S. 2nd St, Rm 413
Springfield, IL 62756

*There are two electric vehicle categories: originally manufactured EV and converted EV. To register a converted EV at the reduced rate, you must also submit the following with your Affirmation for Electric Vehicle form and fees:

  • Photographs of the front, back, and side of your EV.
  • Photographs of the electric motor.
  • Photographs of the battery.

For full details on electric vehicle license plates and reduced registration fees, consult the Illinois SOS Vehicle Services Department

IL Emissions Test Exemptions for Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

Illinois exempts two types of fuel-efficient vehicles from emissions testing for the purposes of first-time IL vehicle registration and registration renewal:

  • Diesel-powered vehicles.
  • Vehicles that run exclusively on electricity.

For a full list of emissions test exemptions, refer to the Vehicle Emissions Testing Program run by Illinois Air Team. Keep in mind that not all Illinois counties require emissions testing. Read the following section for more. Or to find a smog check station near you, scroll down to the locator widget at the bottom of this page.

Also note that Illinois hybrids are not exempt. As explained by the Illinois Air Team, hybrids still create potential for emissions.

Illinois Counties that Require Emissions Testing

If you don't drive a diesel or electric car, you still might be off the hook for a smog check. That's because only certain Illinois counties require vehicle emissions testing. ALL vehicles in the following counties must be tested:

  • Cook.
  • Dupage.
  • Lake.

If you live in one of the following counties, you'll have to check a list of exempt ZIP codes. Reason being, not all vehicles in these counties require an emissions test.

  • Kane.
  • Kendall.
  • McHenry.
  • Will.
  • Madison.
  • Monroe.
  • St. Clair.

Use the state's Title and Registration Status Inquiry page to determine whether your vehicle is up for a smog test. Just be sure you have your vehicle's vehicle identification number (VIN) handy.

Auto Insurance Discounts for Eco-Friendly Driving and Green Vehicles

Some Illinois auto insurance providers offer insurance discounts for having green driving habits and/or driving a fuel-efficient vehicle. Consult your car insurance company about potential green vehicle discounts such as:

  • Hybrid auto discounts.
  • Alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) discounts.
  • Economy car discounts.
  • Low-mileage discounts.
  • Pay as you drive discounts.

If your Illinois auto insurance carrier doesn't reward eco-friendly driving, find one that does. Compare auto insurance rates online and save some green for going green.

Illinois Tax Incentives for Green Drivers

Currently, there are no state tax incentives for driving green in Illinois. However, depending on what you drive, you might be eligible for a sizable federal tax break. Keep reading for details.

Federal Tax Credits for Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Owners

If you own one of the following fuel-efficient vehicles, you might qualify for federal tax credits:

  • Electric car (EV).
  • Hybrid.
  • Plug-in hybrid (PEV).
  • Diesel.
  • Alternative fuel vehicle (AFV).

To find out if you're eligible to save even more money, refer to fueleconomy.gov's Tax Incentive Information Center.

Illinois Rebates for Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFV) and Alternative Fuel

Whether you are an individual or a business, you might be eligible for one of the rebates offered through the Illinois Alternative Fuels Rebate Program. These include:

  • Alternative fuel vehicle rebate—For those who buy new AFVs. For details, read the section below on which vehicles qualify.
  • Conversion rebate—For buying and installing a certified or approved alternative fuel conversion system, or for certain costs you incurred for converting your car into an eligible electric vehicle.
  • Fuel rebate—For buying alternative fuel (either E85 fuel or biodiesel that is a least 20% blend).

NOTE: The rebates have been suspended. Please check with the EPA website for new programs.

Who is Eligible for the IL Vehicle Rebates

The following eligible applicants can apply for the alternative fuel vehicle rebate, as long as you're located in Illinois:

  • Individuals.
  • Businesses.
  • IL government units.
  • Local schools.
  • Local organizations.

The program restricts eligibility to those who purchase the vehicle as the end-user. This applies to businesses that run fleets, as well. For example, during the lifetime of this program, you can receive rebates for up to 300 fleet vehicles. Or, you can receive rebates for maximum of 150 AFVs per location. Refer to the Illinois Green Fleets Program summary page for more.

Those who are not eligible include entities such as:

  • Federal departments or agencies.
  • Car dealers and dealerships.
  • Companies in the business of leasing vehicles.
  • Companies that offer financial arrangements to someone looking to buy a vehicle.

Which Vehicles and Fuels are Eligible for IL Rebates

The rebate applies to a number of vehicles as long as they are registered and titled in Illinois, street-legal for use on public roadways, and are operated within the state. Keep in mind that pre-owned and leased vehicles do not qualify.

Eligible AFVs include:

  • Electric vehicles (EV)*.
  • E85 flexible fuel vehicles (FFV).
  • Natural gas vehicles.
  • Propane vehicles.
  • Hydrogen vehicles

For a full list of eligible electric vehicles, consult the rebate program and summary page.

Eligible alternative fuels include:

  • E85 fuel (85% ethanol blend).
  • Biodiesel fuel (B20 or greater than 20% blend).

To qualify for the fuel rebate, your biodiesel (B20+) fuel must meet certain fuel-quality standards. Consult the eligible fuels section of the rebate program's info page.

Rebates for Electric Vehicle Charging

The Charging Station Rebate Program offers rebate incentives for those who buy electric vehicle charging stations—either for residential or commercial purposes. This is a first come, first serve incentive, so be sure to request additional info to learn more about eligibility.

Consult the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity for the latest on money-saving rebates for EV charging equipment and specifics on electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) rebates.

Weight Exemption for Idle Reduction Technology

Because adding idle reduction technology to a vehicle also adds significant weight, Illinois allows qualified vehicles with an auxiliary power or idle reduction unit (APU) to exceed the following state weight limits by 400 lbs:

  • Gross weight.
  • Axle weight.
  • Bridge formula weight.

Note that you might have to provide written certification of the APU's weight and show the unit is fully functional at all times to take advantage of the weight exemption. Be sure to consult the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5) for full details.

Additional Clean Transportation Incentives (Private and Business)

Illinois offers various kinds of exemptions, grants, loans, and other incentives to both private vehicle owners and businesses.

Laws and Incentives for Exemptions

For Illinois drivers, sometimes exemptions are financial; other times, they're component related.

Private Vehicle Owners

Some private vehicle owners can take advantage of the following green car exemptions.

  • Ethanol Tax Exemption: State sales and use taxes don't apply to fuels with between 70% and 90% ethanol (E70-E90) for vehicles sold between July 1, 2003 and December 31, 2018. Refer to 35 Illinois Compiled Statutes 120/2-10, 105/3-10, and 105/3-44.
  • Biodiesel Tax Exemption: The state tax on biodiesel is based on the percent of biodiesel and when the sale took place. Refer to the AFDC Biofuel Tax Exemption for Illinois and the 35 Illinois Compiled Statutes 120/2-10 and 105/3-10.

You can also learn more about these exemptions at the AFDC's Illinois Laws and Incentives for Exemptions..

Business Vehicles

Depending on your business, you might qualify for the following exemptions:

  • Fleet User Fee Exemption: This exemption helps businesses with 10 vehicles or more. You will be required to pay a $20 annual fee per vehicle. Refer to 415 Illinois Compiled Statutes 120/35.
  • Idle Reduction Weight Exemption: This exemption helps businesses with heavy-duty vehicles subject to gross, axle, and vehicle bridge weight limits. Refer to 625 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/15-112.

You can also learn more about these exemptions at the AFDC's Illinois Laws and Incentives for Exemptions.

Laws and Incentives for Grants

Illinois offers several incentives for businesses to obtain grants, including:

You can also learn more about these grants at the AFDC's Illinois Laws and Incentives for Grants.

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