Top News

BRIAN LILLEY: Electric vehicle sales slump one year after subsidy cut

In this Feb. 9, 2019, file photo, a sign bearing the company logo is displayed outside a Tesla store in Cherry Creek Mall in Denver.
In this Feb. 9, 2019, file photo, a sign bearing the company logo is displayed outside a Tesla store in Cherry Creek Mall in Denver.

Electric vehicle sales took a sharp tumble in Ontario when the Ford government cancelled subsidies for the high-end cars a year ago.

Fresh off their election win, the PCs said there was no sense in subsidizing vehicles for wealthy people that could afford to spend the extra money for a green car.

It’s a point the premier made in Hamilton after touring the industrial city where steel for many Ontario-made vehicles is made.

“The common folks here in Hamilton have a big problem giving rebates up to $16,000 of their hard-earned money to millionaires buying $80,000 cars, $100,000 cars,” Premier Ford said last August.

It’s a valid point, even if not every electric car is a $100,000 Tesla.

The most popular electric vehicle in the first three months of 2019 was the Tesla Model 3, and those start at $43,000.

Of course they compare to a Toyota Corolla in terms of the kind of sedan you get, and Corollas start at $18,900.

The second most popular EV was the Hyundai Kona, a vehicle that starts at $21,000 for the regular model but costs a minimum of $45,000 for electric.

Those are big price differences, and that’s why without the enticement of a rebate, people just aren’t buying electric cars.

Between the beginning of January and the end of March this year, just 1,219 electric vehicles were sold — compared to 2,633 electric vehicles over the same period in 2018.

That’s a 55 per cent drop in sales according to Electric Mobility Canada, an industry group that compiled the figures and wrote the report.

Environmental activists and those that simply oppose the Ford government will look at these numbers and say they are proof that the PCs made a big mistake a year ago.

I don’t agree with them.

First off, the premier’s claim that average taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing cars for the wealthy still stands.

The average person working full-time makes in the neighbourhood of $50,000 a year.

They aren’t spending anywhere close to that amount for an expensive car to show how much they care about the environment.

Secondly, I never understood the wisdom in the Government of Ontario subsidizing electric vehicles when not a single one is made here.

I mean think about it — the policies of the former Wynne government made Ontario-built vehicles more expensive through cap and trade and various other policies, but made it cheaper to buy cars made elsewhere.

Electric vehicles may one day be viable alternatives for the average person, but right now it isn’t there — and those who are well-off financially don’t want to pay full price without a government rebate.

Out of the 2,035,832 passenger vehicles sold in Canada last year, only 44,175, or 2.1%, were electric.

In the first three months of 2019, electric vehicle sales in Ontario fell to just 0.6% of all vehicle sales.

That alone shows the public prefer the cheaper, gas-powered option when all things are equal.

The Trudeau government announced a federal rebate in the last budget that is almost identical to the one the Ford government killed off last year, meaning that now federal taxpayers are subsidizing wealthy people to buy electric cars.

It won’t work until electric cars are cheaper and more reliable.

It’s too bad we have to pay for other people’s status symbol.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

Recent Stories