The recent federal budget signalled a tripling of government rebates for new EVs over the next three years. It also hinted at expanded rebate parameters but didn’t spell out two key aspects of the plan: whether its current $45,000 price ceiling would be increased to help buyers of pricier electric SUVs and trucks, and whether the $5,000 amount per vehicle would be adjusted.
More details are expected to be released by Transport Canada about the broadened program in the next few weeks. In the meantime, those about to purchase EVs are in limbo, wondering whether to buy now or wait to avoid missing potential new incentives.
Early this month, the government issued a helpful release that stated the budget measures would help more Canadians adopt EVs by “continuing to provide purchase incentives of up to $5,000,” which suggests the top rebate amount wouldn’t change. However, it also noted it was extending funding to “broadening eligibility under the program to include more vehicle models.”
The easiest way to do this, and arguably the most helpful to drivers being hit by increased gas prices, is to extend rebates to used EVs, which has been the case in Quebec for years. (Up to $3,500 is available when a used EV is bought.)
The government has a pricing tightrope to walk here, too. Its $45,000 price cap has been shown to keep the base price of EVs down, especially compared to the U.S. Raising that $45,000 could make more vehicles eligible, but it might potentially increase the base prices on popular models.
As well, Kia has temporarily stopped taking orders for its new 2022 EV6 models in Canada and one recent CBC report had a dealer saying the wait time for a Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid was now three years.
The auto industry wants to see higher government rebates – up to $15,000 per new EV – but opposes the rules requiring that a certain percentage of its sales need to be zero-emissions vehicles. On the other hand, EV and clean energy groups have applauded the government’s efforts to increase the percent of these vehicles before all new cars are required to be emissions-free by 2035. The website roadto2035.ca, launched by a coalition of new vehicle dealers and automakers, sets out their positions clearly, while EV lobby group Electric Mobility Canada has asked for rebates for EVs of up to $70,000.
All of which leaves some potential EV owners wondering if now is the time to buy or if they should wait – and how long it will take for their ordered vehicles to arrive.
Michael Bettencourt bought his first EV in late 2011 and has followed the Canadian EV scene ever since. Follow him on Twitter @MCBet10court
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