Ontario signals to automakers, and consumers, that it’s serious about electric cars

When Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty revealed in January that the province was partnering with Better Place, it wasn’t clear whether it was simply a PR stunt or if the government was serious about bringing electric cars in Ontario through the appropriate investments and incentives. That’s because the province put no flesh in the game.

Now, it appears, McGuinty is truly serious. He announced today the goal of having one out of every 20 vehicles driven (not just sold) in Ontario be a plug-in hybrid or pure electric vehicle by 2020. To get there, the province will offer rebates of between $4,000 and $10,000 for plug-in vehicles purchased after July 1, 2010. Buyers of such vehicles would also get green vehicle licence plates allowing the vehicles to be driven on High Occupancy Vehicle (carpool) lanes and providing access to public charging facilities and parking at Ontario government and Go Transit parking lots. The government itself plans to add 500 electric vehicles to its own fleet.

These are the kinds of moves that signal to automakers that Ontario is a place to focus on as a market for both sales and investment. By aiming to have hundreds of thousands of plug-in vehicles driving on Ontario roads by 2020, and by providing generous incentives to help get us there, manufacturers will be more inclined to set up shop in the province.

I should add that Ontario, unlike Michigan, will by 2020 have an electricity system that’s 90 per cent emission-free. Michigan will be closer to 30 per cent. This means the cars being produced in Ontario could be designed as green and manufactured as green.

Prediction: I expect Chinese car manufacturers to rush into Ontario.

10 thoughts on “Ontario signals to automakers, and consumers, that it’s serious about electric cars”

  1. It’s interesting that this post follows your $10k/kw article regarding nuclear power. The question must be posed: if we switch to electric cars, from where will that power be generated?

  2. This is a very good idea. Rebates, specified lanes for efficient cars, 1 in 20 cars electric by 2020, a reliable charging network.

    McGuinty is tearing it up. U.S. and maybe even Germany some day, take heed.

  3. Don’t misread me, but the flurry of announcements in the last few months by the McGuinty government makes me a bit queasy. From my standpoint (a place east of Ontario) all I see here in this rush to announce something, anything.

    They may have their heart in the right place, but he Ontario government looks somewhat disorganized. Is there a master plan with a clear objective and quantifiable targets past 2014?

  4. I’m not really sure about the value of this incentive. If the goal is to help promote local markets for electric vehicle, there are cheaper steps and more useful actions that could be taken (like allowing the use of low-speed electric vehicles). If the goal is to reduce transportation emissions, then it would be better to provide incentives based on performance rather than on technology (which the ecoAuto and the provincial equivalent already do).

  5. I agree with you ClaudeB. There seems to be missing a master plan. I personally see the connection with the renewable energy incentive and this electric car incentive. Ideally, you can be receiving 80 cents a kWh to fuel your electric car with a PV panel.

    But does Ontario see the synergies? I just hope they are not justifying the 26 Billion dollars for nuclear power to power this new electric vehicle demand.

  6. Why are there no Canadian companies involved? Maybe they are too smart to buy into this crap.

    Dalton is leading Ontario over the financial cliff, budget pressures in future years due to bad management and reckless over-spending will be incredible. See California for the future of Ontario. High taxes and elimination of most Government Programs presently in force will be on the table, as the Budget will likely have to be slashed in half.

    So any “Programs” announced with so much fanfare recently will just have to be canceled by a future Conservative Government. I would not count on any of these “initiatives” being around in a few years.

    Just as well, as Government’s only know how to waste money. If there was a case to be made for any of this in the real world outside of delusional Government supported dreamers, it would be built without Government incentives or aid. An “industry” that depends on Government largesse to survive is not sustainable nor a good investment.

    We need a lot of Government to disappear, it has no reason to exist except self-perpetuation.

  7. Change is coming and I believe this initiative will help Ontario get a foot up on the future evolution. Change needs leadership and this is initiatve shows good foresight by our Government. The general public are not tuned into how, and how soon, the way we use energy will change. The Oil Age has peaked. The informed predict major energy changes are on our door step. Electric vehicles will be able to satisfy the needs of many users in the future.

  8. In 2008 we already saw that 78 per cent of OPG’s power generation was emission-free. With the shutdown of coal plants by 2014 and the gradually reduction in natural gas dependence leading up to 2020 the 90-per-cent target won’t be difficult.

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