Congrats, Ontario. You've botched EV adoption with your cancelled rebate

By: Lisa Coxon on December 16, 2019

Remember when Premier Doug Ford came into power last June and threw the former Liberal government’s $14,000 EV rebate in the trash?

Well, look at us now. Ontario is the only province not seeing year-over-year growth for electric vehicle (EV) sales, according to data from Electric Mobility Canada, and is slowing down the rest of the country’s ability to meet a national target.

Between January and June of this year, EV sales were down more than 55% from the same time period last year, according to CBC News.

A federal EV rebate of up to $5,000 was introduced this spring, but it hasn’t helped Ontario much. 

In the second quarter of this year, only 2,933 EVs were sold in Ontario, a 59% decrease from the same time last year, when 7,110 EVs were sold.

And in the third quarter, EV sales decreased 44% from the same time last year.

The federal government has a national target of 10% EV sales by 2025. But Ontario is making that difficult for the rest of the country to achieve. Five years out, and national EV sales are currently only at 3.5%, according to Electric Mobility Canada’s data.

“It's going to be challenging for the federal government to meet that target…” Al Cormier of Electric Mobility Canada, told CBC News. "If Ontario was in the game again it would make the whole thing a lot easier."

In British Columbia, 10% of automotive sales are EVs, and Quebec is at 7%. In Ontario, on the other hand, electric vehicles make up just under 2% of sales.

When Ford cancelled the provincial EV rebate, he contended that it was being handed only to those wealthy enough to afford EVs in the first place. 

But it’s called an incentive for a reason. Without it, what push is there for the average driver to switch to electric? And with national EV credits dwindling, Canadians aren’t exactly seeing an abundance of financial advantages to going green.

Cara Clairman, CEO of Plug’n Drive, a non-profit electric vehicle organization, told CBC News that rebates are key because they remove some of the initial sticker shock on EVs, which tend to be more expensive than gas-fuelled vehicles.

“The total cost of ownership, when you take into account that you're not going to be paying for gas and there's less maintenance ... is actually lower for an EV than for most gas cars,” she told CBC News.