With Ontario government rebates on electric vehicles — as high as $14,000 — now history, it’s time for the federal Liberals to get serious about a national program to provide financial assistance to all Canadians.
Why? It’s important to get the entire country used to the idea of electric transportation, because it’s our future.
When the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and Premier Doug Ford killed the Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program (EHVIP), it joined the likes of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba when it comes to the cost of green vehicles, leaving those even considering a new green car no financial incentive whatsoever. The problem is the country is a patchwork quilt of aid, ranging from zero in some provinces to $8,000 in Quebec.
Yes, going green is noble, but it’s expensive. People still have mortgages, and there is no denying internal combustion keeps more green in people’s pockets. This is exactly why the feds need to make incentives part of their national zero-emissions vehicle strategy, which is supposed to be released by year’s end.
The federal government doesn’t need to give everyone who buys a new battery-electric or hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicle $14,000, but eliminating federal sales tax on them would at least strike a balance between those who say incentives are nothing more than a vanity pro- gram and those who say they’re needed to build mass-market demand. And it would be national.
Take the Chevrolet Bolt. The popular electric vehicle has a base price of $44,400, before delivery charges. Shaving off federal sales tax would save buyers in any province $3,108. And should a province want to do its part and knock off the provincial sales tax (or the pro- vincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax where applicable), it would mean more savings for the consumer and potential sales for the automak- ers. If someone could somehow convince the Ontario govern- ment that not charging sales tax on that Bolt doesn’t equate to “corporate welfare,” it could save the customer a total of 13 per cent, or $5,772.
Such an idea has the sup- port of the Global Automakers of Canada and the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) in Ontario.
“Eliminating the [sales tax] from these vehicles makes good sense,” said David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada.
In fact, his association had been asking the Ontario govern- ment — before this last elec- tion — for the removal of the provincial component of the HST.
“It’s unfortunate the Ontario government [hasn’t eliminated] the HST from electric-vehicle sales,” TADA spokesman Frank Notte said of the previous Liberal government back in March.
Cara Clairman, CEO of Plug’n Drive, which promotes the use of electric vehicles and has 11 different models at its centre in North York, said she expects a dip in EV sales in Ontario now that the incentive is dead.
“That would be natural,” she told Automotive News Canada in a story posted on our website Aug. 27.
And that could be a serious blow to EV momentum since Ontario has about a third of the country’s population.
But, she had a message for the naysayers.
“The message we want to say in the industry is: ‘This isn’t over. People can still buy an EV.”
Yes, they can, but rebates help.