While Ottawa is touting its incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) program as a way to make EVs more affordable, some dealers in British Columbia, which also offers rebates, can’t keep up with demand.
“It’s huge,” said James Hartley, sales manager at Morrey Nissan in Burnaby. “Every second customer wants to test-drive a Leaf. As of May 1st or just before that, people were coming in.”
Marsaud Didier, a spokesman for Nissan Canada, said the automaker had noticed a spike in sales since Ottawa announced in March iZEV incentives of up to $5,000, which took effect May 1.
“Dealers are currently in need of more inventory, which is normal when a new effective incentive is being launched without any advance notice,” Didier wrote in an email.
“As we did last year to address the pickup of demand in Ontario just before the [EV incentive] program was canceled, we are working extremely hard to maximize our production to suffice our demand. Last year we reached 60-day supply, which is the standard day supply for any vehicle.”
British Columbia and Quebec offer EV rebates of up to $5,000 and $8,000, respectively. The provincial rebates can be combined with the federal incentive, which means a B.C. buyer can enjoy a discount of up to $10,000, depending on the vehicle.
A JOLT FOR EV SALES
At a Toyota Canada event in Cambridge, Ont., in late April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said iZEV would spur EV sales across the country.
“Because we know how important it is for Canadians to make choices that are good for the environment, we are willing to give Canadians [as much as] $5,000 directly off of the cost of many low-emission vehicles to encourage and develop bringing down the price on zero-emission vehicles as we move forward as a society,” Trudeau told Automotive News Canada.
“A commitment to rebate zero-emission vehicles is the federal government’s way of encouraging people to make better choices and encouraging auto companies to offer a greater range of choices on the kind of vehicles that we know are going to be more and more dependent in the coming years.”
ENOUGH CARS FOR CUSTOMERS?
Carter GM in Burnaby experienced “quite an influx of customers purchasing [eligible] vehicles,” said Kerry Renaud, the dealership’s new-inventory sales manager.
The dealership sold four EVs — either the Chevrolet Volt or Bolt — on May 2 just after the program went into effect, with five more scheduled for May 4.
Jennifer Wright, spokeswoman for General Motors Canada, said the automaker “has and will continue to support our Canadian dealers in responding to increasing consumer demand for our award-winning Chevrolet Bolt EV.”
At Harris Kia in Nanaimo, B.C., dealer principal David Bare predicted that EV demand would outstrip supply.
“You can pour all the money you want into this program,” Bare said, “but if there’s no cars for people to buy, it’s going to continue to be a prob