B.C. pulls back on EV rebate, raises ire of new car sector

by | Jun 19, 2024 | 0 comments

British Columbia has made a major change to its electric vehicle (EV) rebate program, dropping eligbility for the maximum rebate to vehicles from $55,000 to $50,000, and raising the ire of new car sellers and automaker groups.

Aftermarket players should be mindful of future impacts of such changes on EV sales as they might affect the future makeup of the vehicle fleet, possibly slowing EV adoption rates and affecting which vehicles customers purchase.

Under the change, popular BEVs such as the Tesla Model Y are no longer eligible for the rebate (Model Y RWD MSRP is $53,990) though the Model 3 is, curiously coming in at $49,990. A Chevy Bolt EV starts at about $41,000. A Toyota bZ4X BEV appears to be one that loses out, wtih an MSRP of $53,000. Equally as interesting, Hyundai lists the Ioniq 5 BEV with a BC MSRP of $54,999 MSRP (plus additional fees), putting it just under the previous threshold, but above the new one.

British Columbia is the second province to make recent changes to EV incentives. Earlier in 2024, the Province of Quebec announced that it would be ramping down it’s incentives, from $7,000 in 2024, $4000 in 2025, $2000 in 2026, and gone altogether in 2027.

The announcement by British Columbia provides no such offramp; a 30-day transition period was reported.

While the shift of $5,000 may not seem significant, it excludes 75% of the vehicles previously qualifying for the incentives, according to Tim Reuss, President & CEO, Canadian Automobile Dealers Association.

“We are astonished and extremely disappointed by the announced changes to BC’s ZEV rebate program,” said Reuss.

“Not only was this change decided in great haste and without any consultation with the industry, but it contradicts the province’s own ZEV ambitions. Excluding 75% of vehicles that had previously qualified for the purchase incentives when price is one of the major hurdles for consumers to adopt ZEVs, makes absolutely no sense. We strongly urge the BC government to reconsider this change and to immediately engage in consultation with the entire industry on how best to proceed.”

British Columbia has, to date, seen the highest adoption rate of EVs in Canada, with nearly 30% of new registrations being in the EV category in 2023.

The province had announced an accelerated plan to go to 90% of light-duty vehicle sales by 2030 and 100% by 2035 only last October. The change, charges critics, puts that plan at risk.

“British Columbia has the most aggressive ZEV targets in North America at 90% ZEV sales by 2030. Today’s announcement to further weaken the ZEV purchase incentive all but guarantees the government’s mandated targets will not be met with serious negative consequences for consumers, industry, and the provincial economy,” said Brian Kingston, President and CEO, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association.

Josie Osborne, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, responsible for the program, defended the changes.

In a statement reported by Glacier Media, Minister Osborne said there are still more than 70 vehicle trims eligible under the government rebate program. She said “larger category” vehicles like pickup trucks and vans can still receive rebates if they don’t exceed a manufacturer suggested retail price (MRSP) of $70,000. Osborne also said the province expects more models to be available as manufacturers lower prices. 

“This isn’t the first time we have made changes to the CleanBC electric vehicle rebate program,” Osborne said in the statement. “In 2019, we reduced the MRSP cap from $77K to $55K. And in August 2022, we income-tested the program and lowered the rebate amounts. However, EV sales continued to increase.”

“We’ve never suggested incentives should be in place forever, but they need to be in place until price parity with ICE vehicles is achieved – and we are not close to that.  The changes today undermine the government’s Go Electric program and make it that much harder for British Columbians who want to go electric to make the switch and make a difficult challenge essentially insurmountable for automakers to meet 90% ZEV sales by 2030,” said David Adams, President and CEO, Global Automakers of Canada.


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