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.