The federal government’s zero-emission vehicle rebate program was welcome news to a Quebec dealer with more than $13 million worth of electric vehicles to sell.
Hugo Jeanson, general manager and co-owner of Bourgeois Chevrolet Buick GMC of Rawdon took a chance last fall, buying about 150 EVs from Ontario dealers who had just lost their provincial EV rebate program that paid up to $14,000 in rebates, creating a sudden surplus of plug-in EVs in the province.
Jeanson figured he could sell the cars – which cost a total of $6.6 million – with help from Quebec’s $8,000 EV rebate program; with it in 2018, he sold 430 Chevrolet Volts and Bolts.
“Just with the provincial rebate, I was confident all those cars would be sold,” he said. “With the Volt [being discontinued], I needed to get my hands on as much [product] as possible, so that’s what I did.
INVENTORY UP FRONT
“Obviously it’s very costly to take a year’s worth of inventory and buy it at once. Usually you’d order it over three months, but I prefer to have a lot of inventory at once and slowly sell it.”
In addition to the vehicles purchased from Ontario, he already had 150 EVs in stock, and so was sitting on about 300 cars valued at more than $13 million when the federal program was announced in the March budget.
It didn’t start until May 1, however, and the six-weeks between announcement and implementation proved costly.
“It totally stopped EV sales across the board,” Jeanson said. “Usually I sell about 50 a month in March and April, and I didn’t sell any [this year]. Everybody was holding on taking delivery of the vehicles.”
EVs make up half of the 100 vehicles sold each month during peak seasons at the dealership. “[It was] quite a slow start for the year.”
Jeanson said he immediately transacted 50 pre-ordered cars on May 1, adding that he was confident he can sell his entire inventory because of the combined federal and provincial rebates. The 300 cars add up to a combined rebate of $3.9 million, he siad.