A car is charged at a charge station for electric vehicles on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Transport Canada data shows more than 14,000 electric vehicles were purchased in Canada during the first three months of the federal government’s new rebate program.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Electric car sales climb in wake of new $5,000 federal rebate program

Electric cars accounted for four per cent of all vehicle sales in May and June

Canada’s new rebate program to help make electric cars cheaper appears to be showing early signs of stimulating sales but mostly in the two provinces that require a minimum number of electric car sales.

On May 1, Ottawa began offering rebates of up to $5,000 on the purchase of some electric vehicles in a bid to bring the cost of lower-end models closer to that of their gas-powered cousins.

Announced in the March budget, the incentives are part of Ottawa’s goal to increase sales of electric cars to 10 per cent of all vehicles sold by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040.

Last year, electric and plug-in hybrids accounted for about two per cent of total vehicle sales.

Matthew Klippenstein, an engineer who began tracking electric vehicle sales a few years ago on his website Canada EV Sales, said they accounted for four per cent of all vehicle sales in May and June.

It’s still a tiny share — the Ford F-series pickup trucks alone accounted for seven per cent of all vehicle sales — but it is rising. And Klippenstein said the federal rebate “has definitely increased sales in the past couple of months.”

Transport Canada reports that more than 14,000 electric cars and minivans were bought nationwide using the rebate since May 1. The department, which is overseeing the rebate program, also said overall electric vehicle sales were up 30 per cent between January and June, compared to the year before.

But Klippenstein said there is one caveat to the data. More than eight in 10 of the electric vehicles sold in May and June, were sold in British Columbia and Quebec. Those are the only two provinces that have a provincial rebate — Ontario did until last year when Premier Doug Ford cancelled it after being elected — and both allow their rebate to be combined with the federal one for even greater savings.

READ MORE: B.C. Hydro powering up for more electric vehicle charging demand

Even more important to the sales distribution is that both B.C. and Quebec require dealerships to sell a certain percentage of electric cars, Klippenstein said. If they don’t meet the quotas they have to either pay a fine or buy credits from competitors who exceeded their quotas.

Klippenstein said there is still a limited supply of electric cars and those the automakers are sending to Canada are going to B.C. and Quebec first to make sure dealerships hit their quotas.

Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said there is still work to do to install public charging stations in the provinces that have never had a rebate. The lack of that infrastructure is contributing to lower sales there.

Transport Canada hasn’t yet been able to provide further details about what kinds of cars were the most popular purchases or sales numbers by province.

The federal rebates are available for fully electric vehicles whose lowest-end model retails for less than $45,000, or $55,000 for vehicles that have seven or more seats like minivans. Up to $5,000 is available, with fully electric vehicles bought outright or leased for at least four years eligible for the maximum. Shorter-range plug-in hybrids or fully electric cars leased for shorter times are eligible for rebates between $625 and $3,750 depending on the length of the lease and the type of vehicle.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Quesnel figure skater wins big in Smithers

Beverly Smetaniuk brought home two medals

Sunfield Energy Inc. provides info on proposed solar project near McLeese Lake

Sunfield wants to determine if a utility-scale solar project west McLeese Lake is potentially viable

Christmas tree permits now available online

Free-use permits must be held in order to chop down a tree on Crown land

Quesnel firefighters to help train Volunteer Fire Brigade in Wells

City of Quesnel and District of Wells will enter into an MOU for short-term training support

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read