By on March 10, 2018

2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), Plug-In Outlet

Ontario, that strange land located between Detroit and Buffalo (and elsewhere, too) became the largest Canadian market for electric vehicles in 2017. There was good reason for it, too. Imagine walking into a dealer showroom, eyeballing a flashy luxury car, and suddenly your local political representative rushes in and hands you a check for $14,000, no strings attached.

Thanks, fellow taxpayers!

This subsidy is what buyers of Tesla Model S and X vehicles, retailing for over six figures (Canadian MSRP), enjoyed in Ontario until very recently. It’s important to note, though maybe not to certain folks, that the province holds the world’s largest sub-sovereign debt, most recently tagged at $311 billion, and pays over a billion dollars a month to service the interest on that debt.

Sorry, Ontario Tesla buyers. The party’s over. Again.

As of March 9th, there’s zero incentives awaiting big-bucks EV buyers. While there’s still $7,000 to $14,000 in the till for buyers of EVs or PHEVs costing less than $75,000 the new cutoff means there isn’t a cent for higher-end cars, and this author couldn’t be happier.

As part of the Ontario government’s green energy/climate change push, an initiative dating back to 2009, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle are eligible for a range of subsidies. The province’s Green Energy Act (2009) also pushed electricity rates through the roof as a result of contracts signed for renewable solar and wind energy at exorbitant rates. Currently, Ontario pays neighboring U.S. jurisdiction to take its excess energy, and the cost of that transfer shows up on ratepayers’ bills. (Conservation comes easy when electricity’s relatively expensive, making the province’s power surplus easy to understand).

Under the province’s Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, buyers were once eligible for rebates totalling up to $8,500, depending on battery size. Long-range vehicles like Teslas garnered the most incentives. However, in 2016, the province backtracked on the subsidy free-for-all, capping the incentives for EVs or plug-in hybrids costing between $75,000 and $150,000 at $3,000. In doing this, it made cheaper EVs containing five seats eligible for up to $14,000 in subsidies.

In areas where transit, healthcare, homelessness rates, housing, or infrastructure isn’t perfect, hauling $14,000 out of government coffers and handing it to a luxury car buyer could seem tone-deaf, especially when it’s billed as a progressive move. And yet, inexplicably, the Ontario government removed the MSRP cap a year later, making any vehicle eligible for the maximum subsidy. This change came into effect, retroactively, on January 1, 2017.

Guess what? Buyers are much more likely to buy an electric vehicle when the government foots part of the bill! Last year, some 7,477 EVs and PHEVs were sold in the province, surpassing Canada’s former green car leader, Quebec. (Both Quebec and British Columbia offer green car incentives, but nowhere near as high as Ontario’s.)

In the case of low-end EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq or Chevrolet Bolt, the Ontario subsidy pushes the net price down into the low $20k range — not bad for someone looking for a zero-emission vehicle to tool around the city in. For top-end, long-range vehicles, however, the subsidy pushes the entry price to — perhaps — under $100,000. Most observers in the median income range, the types who keep an eye on dollars and cents in order to afford groceries and bills, probably didn’t think much of this policy, especially when the Ontario government added a carbon tax at the gas pumps.

As the province counts down to a June election, the governing Ontario Liberal Party, in power for 15 years, seems reluctant to keep the high-class/low-emission party rolling. While hydrogen vehicles have been added to the subsidy (despite a lack of refueling stations), the price ceiling for EVs now seems ironclad. Clearly, it’s one way of keeping the projected deficit to a trim $8 billion in the coming year.

According to the government, “incentives will be provided under the previous EVIP program for EVs ordered prior to March 9, 2018, provided that the EV is delivered and that the application is submitted by September 7, 2018.” This insulates the province from any lawsuits filed by Tesla buyers blindsided by the silent change to the government’s EV policy.

While your author applauds the move, not everyone’s happy about it. As internet posters squabble about what tax dollars are really for, Ontario has also beefed up its electric vehicle infrastructure spending. If you’re a business looking to install a Level 2 EV charging station, Ontario will pay 80 percent of the cost of installation, up to a total of $7,500.

It’s worth noting that most configurations of the Tesla Model 3, at the very least, will be eligible for the incentive. If it doesn’t, then Musk’s “affordable” electric vehicle isn’t the people’s car he envisioned.

[Image: Hyundai]

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65 Comments on “Canada’s Largest EV Market Quietly Rolls Back Massive Government Subsidy (Again)...”


  • avatar
    CrapBox

    In Ontario, taxes are used for the government to enrich itself. They’re certainly not used to fix potholes or build new roads.

    Frequently, the Premier promises “good” jobs to the electorate, meaning cushy government jobs for people who are willing to sell their souls. These people then brag about receiving “a deuce a week to play hide-and-seek.”

    Subsidizing electric vehicles is just part of this scam. Teslas are funded with stolen money and driven by thieves.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @CrapBox …Well said !

    • 0 avatar
      Penvon

      I don’t usually comment on here,but after reading your comment I felt obligated too.Well said sir,well said.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      Spot on mate! The only ones who will disagree are those who use confiscated wealth to enrich themselves with programs designed to never solve the problems they were intended to fix in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      CrapBox,

      It’s pretty much the same in the States when it comes to

      “taxes are used for the government to enrich itself. They’re certainly not used to fix potholes or build new roads.”

      And ” Subsidizing electric vehicles is just part of this scam. Teslas are funded with stolen money and driven by thieves.”

      I’m all about choice, but let’s have choice without subsidies, please.

      EV’s are not affordable for the vast majority of working American citizens, and for most who CAN afford to buy them, the EV is NOT their primary vehicle.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    “In {EVERYWHERE}, taxes are used for the government to enrich itself.”

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’m a fan of EVs, but I agree that there shouldn’t be subsidies on high-end cars. It’s so ridiculous. So are we going to have Rimac buyers calling off their $2 million dollar purchases over the loss of a $7,500 incentive?

    The funny thing is that most of the opponents crying about EV incentives for the rich say nothing when President Dennison gives even bigger tax cuts to the same people.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      Tax cuts = taking less of people’s money that was their’s to begin with. Unless you think all wealth belongs to the government first. Some might call that slavery.

      Subsidy = money you stole from someone else’s pocket to give to somebody else, usually because a lobbyist make it advantageous for a politician to do so

      Not the same

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @jacob_coulter: It is the same. Whether it is a called a subsidy or tax cut, there is less money to support the government and it has to be made up somewhere.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          If it were the same, the government wouldn’t have a preference. But we all know governments prefer subsidies and spending programs because it allows them to launder money through the public sector and take a cut.

          Predictably, most bureaucrats hate tax cuts. . . . which is curious because they tell us tax cuts are spending too, every time they want a new subsidy program.

        • 0 avatar
          jacob_coulter

          No, its not the same.

          Whether a government decides to spend more or take less is all the difference in the world.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            Sorry guys, but it’s the same. My oil and gas production subsidies and the EV credit reduced the amount of the check I had to write out for taxes. I paid less taxes. I paid less taxes because of the EV. The EV purchase caused a cut the amount of taxes I had to pay. It was a tax cut – because my taxes were cut. You know -a reduction. What part of that do you not understand?

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            It’s not the same. Quit being obtuse. Bureaucrats have an overwhelming preference for subsidies and targeted programs. The economic impact of tax cuts and subsidies are not the same, either, even if the financial outcome at the individual level appears to be identical.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    Basically started as a rebate of the provincial taxes paid on the purchase of a Tesla (until they made changes), the Volts and Leafs were basically getting extra incentive. In Alberta, where we have no provincial sales tax, there are no electric car rebates.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    How can Ontario officials be so short-sighted and worry about little things like a few billion in government debt when there is a world to save. Ontario needs those extra subsidized Teslas to offset all the coal being burned in India and China. The Ontario Government Bond owners won’t be laughing as they drown from all the flooding caused by Global Warming.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      “How can Ontario officials be so short-sighted ? ”

      It defies logic sir.

      I have nothing but respect for America and Americans. That being said ,paying our friends, and neighbours to relieve us of our excess Hydro just gives me a twitch in the old sp—-

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      <>. If only a few billion could help offset climate change. 2017’s hurricane tab sits at $130 billion. Imagine what the Koch brothers could have made of that money.

      Tax credits for EVs should have been capped to prevent fat cats from getting a discount on their Teslas. They already get the vast majority of the breaks; they don’t need any more.

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        @golden

        They shouldn’t exist at all. Why are taxpayers forking over 5-figure subsidies to help people relocate CO2 emissions from the roadway to the powerplant? It’s all going into the same atmosphere.

        BEV subsidies are utterly ridiculous. Even in a purely economic sense they merely redistribute wealth between the upper classes.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          For what it’s worth, the majority of Ontario’s power is generated through nuclear and hydro-electric (along with some wind and solar, and I believe less than 5% gas), so while there may be side effects, not much CO2 is generated.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            @Maymar

            Is marginal production coming from the nuke plant? I suppose it could be, but I doubt they are raising nuke electricity to provide more power to drivers. Some is probably coming from clean energy, but much more is probably just additional hydrocarbons.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @TW5 – http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadian-coal-by-the-numbers-1.3408568

          Ontario hasn’t used coal for power since 2014.

          BC where I live does not use any coal for electrical generation.

          • 0 avatar
            TW5

            We’re not talking about coal. We’re talking about hydrocarbons, generally.

            The issue is whether Ontario’s marginal power is produced by hydrocarbons. In this case it’s unclear, but generally marginal power is generated by on-demand hydrocarbons, in Ontario’s case it would be natural gas.

            I’m sure Ontario is adding a lot of wind power, too, but when production goes slack, it’s almost always hydrocarbons that make up the difference. In this arrangement, the primary benefit is still shifting carbon emissions from one site to another.

            There are much better ways to reduce carbon emissions without redistributing taxpayer money among the upper classes.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @TW5 –
            Ontario: sources of electricity

            nuclear 60%
            hydroelectric 24%
            natural gas 10%
            wind 6%
            solar <1%
            bioenergy <1%

          • 0 avatar
            TDIandThen....

            Correct, natural gas is used in almost all peaking power in Ontario, which occurs in summer cooling season mostly.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      It’s almost as if Ontario is steering hurricanes towards the United States. The Canadian swashbucklers must be made to pay for their crimes.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Ironic, subsidizing an expensive luxury car with taxpayer money. Of course it’s to save the environment. but chances are the person that can afford a Tesla also owns a full size SUV, maybe a vacation home and takes a lot of airplane trips. So, everyone gets to subsidize a tiny shrinking of a conspicuous consumer’s carbon footprint.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    “The province’s Green Energy Act (2009) also pushed electricity rates through the roof as a result of contracts signed for renewable solar and wind energy at exorbitant rates.”

    The article neglects to mention a few things. Ontario gets 61% of its electricity from nuclear and 7% from renewables. Ontario’s nuclear plants are notorious for vast cost overruns. And they still have no idea how to deal with the waste. So don’t put all the blame on green energy.

    Ontario power costs are not far from the Canadian urban average. Like 14 cents per kwh compared to almost 13 cents.

    Ontario rates have also gone up from phasing out cheap but dirty coal plants. This has health benefits and smog days have become rare. Surely that has value.

    https://www.thestar.com/amp/news/queenspark/2017/08/11/the-truth-about-hydro-in-ontario-a-fact-check.html

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Yes, it does have value. Imagine the health costs we would be facing today had emission standards not taken place. We forget how bad traffic used to stink.

      I wish I only paid 14 cents per KWH. With delivery charges added in, I pay almost 21 cents per KWH. Yet for non-summer months our bill is only about $100. Buy Energy Star, unplug electric “vampires” and turn stuff off when you don’t need it. The amount of electrical waste is staggering. Sadly the advent of LED lighting is causing the gross over-lighting of everything. Don’t even get me started on that disgusting 5K CRI lighting that uniformed people buy and put on/in their homes. Ugh.

      • 0 avatar
        brandloyalty

        I used to live in downtown Toronto. When it snowed the snow would turn black within hours. If you left a window open in summer there would be black dust on indoor furniture.

        Bear in mind that all those things “wasting” power help heat your house during the cooler seasons. So it’s not all wasted. The worst waste is using air conditioning to counter the “waste” heat in the summer.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    “The most dangerous place in the world is between a Liberal and a pile of taxpayer money.” – Ezra Levant

  • avatar
    Dutcowski

    About 14 years ago a member of the Ontario legislative gave me a big tell-off.

    The delivery van I was driving was left parked idling. The alternator was on the way out. I had been instructed to return to base at lunchtime for a replacement vehicle. It had just been boosted for restart from the previous dead stop.

    Along comes this pompous ass with his nose stuck in the air. Telling me off about the idling and emissions and how it was totally unacceptable and ignorant of me to leave the vehicle running.

    He even trys to phone the company from the number on the side of the vehicle. Our call center was busy…

    I trid to explain to him if I shut it off it won’t restart. And that I’m returning to base for a replacement vehicle. He wouldn’t have any of it.

    He grunted and shuffled off to his vehicle – a Lincoln Navigator.

    There’s Ontario government hypocrisy for you. First hand.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Careful here folks The “Victim a Day” Liberal rag A.K.A Toronto Star owns.TTAC.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Steph,
    Here’s a novel idea for journalism.

    You presented a “cut and paste” article that is interesting.

    Now, how about following up the story with some interviews and fact finding on what this is all about.

    Most commenters here on TTAC can produce an article like this, what about using some of that journalistic training you have?

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I thought this was The Truth About Cars, not politics. I’m surprised someone did figure out how to bring Trump into the conversation.

  • avatar
    Penvon

    They only did this because Jaguar & Porsche are about to release their EV’s & they didn’t want to be handing out more money..I am glad though,it was about time.

  • avatar
    GoVeg

    Wow, and another free pass for the internal combustion engine, and all the free carbon dumping they can continue . . . .

    Here are some clues for the clueless, such as the author of this article:

    https://www.treehugger.com/fossil-fuels/true-cost-gasoline-closer-15-gallon-video.html

    Climate.NASA.gov

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      GoVeg…link from treehugger.com…rabid hate of ICE engines…

      Cliche checks out.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Canada has large areas of forest denuded by logging. If money was invested in reforestation, the added benefit would be a reduction in CO2.

        “Typical sequestration rates for afforestation/reforestation, in tonnes of carbon per hectare per year, are: 0.8 to 2.4 tonnes in boreal forests, 0.7 to 7.5 tonnes in temperate regions”

        Since Canada is mostly boreal forest, that would translate to 3.76 million to 11.28 million tonnes per year.

    • 0 avatar

      GoVeg, please tell us what cars you like.

      Keep calling people names like evil and clueless. That will surely get them to see the error of their ways.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I can’t imagine a politically progressive person would be heartbroken about subsidies on six-figure vehicles going away—after all, the definition of a progressive tax system is one where one’s tax burden (in whatever combination of levies and subsidies) is proportional to one’s ability to pay.

    I can’t imagine a politically conservative person seriously making the argument that the money should have been spent on social programs instead, since they oppose that sort of spending too.

    As for middle of the road people who care about both the environment and efficient government? They know that the number of people who can afford a six-figure EV, subsidized or not, is too small to make an environmental difference; and they know that the amount of money spent giving rebates to this tiny group of buyers is vanishingly small and ultimately irrelevant in the context of a provincial budget.

    So for any serious-minded person — left, right, or center — to have a strong opinion on this one way or another would be a thoroughly pointless, head-scratching waste of time and attention.

    “Government briefly adjusts policy, then thinks better of it.” Only on the Internet — home of shameless crocodile tears, libertarian lunacy, and whipped-up outrage over things that will seem irrelevant two weeks later — does this even merit a story.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Much of the political fight anywhere is, ” for any serious-minded person — left, right, or center — to have a strong opinion on this one way or another would be a thoroughly pointless, head-scratching waste of time and attention.”

      So in America, there is a fight brewing about similar subsidies on EVs, PEVs and Hybrids.

      Now that the US EPA has been de-clawed, and so many other regulations and mandates are being rolled back, there is hope that maybe in his infinite wisdom The Great White Father in DC will get rid of these and other subsidies in the US.

      One can only hope.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    The tax credit here in BC was never as generous, only $5,000 and vehicles over $77,000 are excluded. Given that 95% of our power is generated by Hydro, I’d love to get an EV but my condo’s garage isn’t wired for them. Electricity cost is just 8.29 cents per kWh for the first 1,350 kWh over an average two-month billing period. Above that amount, you pay 12.43 cents per kWh.

  • avatar
    scott25

    If only the Ontario Conservatives weren’t completely inept and didn’t keep shooting themselves in the foot on a weekly basis, maybe we’d have a true alternative to the Liberals. There’s a reason they’ve been in power for 15 years, and that’s lack of much choice. We need a new centrist party.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @scott25 – Conservatives tend to get in power when the public is totally and completely sick of the Liberal Party or vote splitting allows them to get it. That tends to be the way of things federally. I doubt Ontario is any different.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Well, we have a new Progressive Conservative leader elected. The one who does not support elite. The one who wants to cut bureaucracy. Almost 80% of Ontario’s population is fed up choosing between heating and eating. He wants to get rid of Carbon Tax and a Green Energy Act, yet he wants to remain environmentally responsible.

    I hope that the people of Ontario will support him on June 7 and that he will form a new majority government.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      You forgot to mention he’s rumoured to be a former drug dealer and his brother was crackhead who managed to become Mayor of Toronto and embarrass the whole country. The Fords are trailer trash.

      • 0 avatar
        Bimmer

        All people are innocent until proven guilty in the court of law.

        Do you perhaps believe rumors about Loch-ness monster or unicorns?

        I’m not sure if saving taxpayers around $1 Billion is considered an embarrassment. I’m more embarrassed by the clown in Parliament Hill who spends my hard earned tax dollars like a drunken sailor in a whore house!

        Or the other one in Queen’s Park that’s always talking about green this and green that. The only green is my tax dollars in her loot bag! But the party is almost over!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    How much of those incentives is a simply VAT refund?

    Methinks this may not be costing them net anything, thoughts?

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