Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Behind the subsidies for electric vehicles

Electric cars are expensive -- that's to be expected for any new vehicle with new technology and limited numbers.

Electric cars are expensive -- that's to be expected for any new vehicle with new technology and limited numbers. To take the sting out, the province has implemented a point-of-sale incentive for battery electric and other clean-energy vehicles currently on the market.

The incentives started at the beginning of December and are set to run until the end of March 2013, or when funds run out. There is enough money to fund incentives for about 1,370 vehicles.


In B.C., there is a point-of-sale incentive for battery electric vehicles. To date only six cars qualify for a $5,000 incentive:

- Mitsubishi i MiEV

- Nissan Leaf

- Tesla Roadster

- Smart ForTwo ED

- Ford Azure Dynamics Transit Connect

- Ford Focus Electric


The Prius's incentive is less because its battery, which is only 4 kWh, is lower than the Volt, which has a 15-kWh battery.

- Toyota Plug-in Prius $2,500

- Chevrolet Volt $5,000


An incentive of $2,500 is available for this clean-burning natural gas.

- Chevrolet Express

- GMC Savana

- Honda GX


These two vehicles use a hydrogen fuel cell to produce electricity to power the on-board electric motor in the vehicle.

- Honda Clarity

- Mercedes-Benz B-Class


While B.C.'s $5,000 incentive is decent, it pales in comparison to Ontario, which implemented its clean transportation initiative in July 2010. The first 10,000 residents who purchase or lease a plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle are eligible for a rebate of between $5,000 and $8,500. Ontario's goal is to see one out of every 20 vehicles in the province be electrically powered by 2020.

Starting this month, Quebec residents are eligible for incentives of up to $8,000 on a sliding scale. The biggest incentives will be offered to BEVs with the biggest range and smaller ones to BEVs and plug-in hybrids with smaller batteries. The maximum rebate will be reduced every year until it drops to a maximum of $3,000 in 2015.

Quebec hopes the province will see up to 300,000 electrified vehicles -- or 25 per cent -- on the road by 2020. Like B.C., about 93 per cent of Quebec's electrical production is produced by hydro.


Every electric car is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Various states, local governments and power utilities also offer various incentives and privileges. For example, California offers a further rebate of $2,500 and allows owners of electric cars use of the state's car-pool lanes without meeting the occupancy restriction until 2015. Los Angeles pledges to fast-track permits and make homes electric-vehicle ready in less than a week. A number of cities offer free parking. Sacramento offers EV owners 50 per cent off its charging rates.

For more information on B.C's incentive program, go to