The Nissan Leaf will carry a price tag of $32,500, but some California residents could drive one for just about $17,000 — roughly the cost of a typical gas-powered compact sedan.

That low, low price is thanks to incentives from the federal government, which offers a $7,500 tax credit to buyers of plug-in cars; the state of California, which offers a $5,000 rebate; and local governments in California’s San Joaquin Valley, which offer another $3,000 in rebates.

Many other states, and even cities and counties, offer their own incentives for plug-in cars. Those tax breaks and other goodies could be deal-makers for a lot of consumers, if they know about and can understand them.

The incentives are designed to encourage car buyers who are willing to do their part to help the environment — provided it doesn’t cost them anything.

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