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Calls for province to ensure long-term funding for clean vehicle rebate program

Last Updated Jan 1, 2016 at 2:13 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Most of $7.5-million rebate fund created by the province has already been used up

Industry groups want more provincial cash to keep rebates for clean vehicles coming

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Those who build and sell cars are hoping the province sets more money aside to encourage people to buy clean vehicles in the coming months.

This comes as a $7.5-million rebate fund created by the province and expected to last for three years is already mostly used up after the offer began in April.

$5.6 million of the fund had already been spoken for as of December 29, according to figures provided by the provincial government.

The fund provides rebates of up to $5,000 for those who buy electric cars, and up to $6,000 for those who purchase hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

With the fund expected to run dry in the coming months, Global Automakers of Canada president David Adams wants a more predictable rebate program in place.

“If a program is going to be put in place, I think there needs to some long-term funding for the incentive program,” says Adams. “It doesn’t help if the program is sort of on again and off again. That’s what we experienced in the not-too-distant past, where the program ran for a period of time and then shut down, and then started up again in March of 2015. A long-term vision and the appropriate funding of the program are what’s required for automakers to look at, and say, okay, there is a long-term commitment to this technology and for having incentives to support consumer demand for the product.”

Adams is referencing Phase 1 of the province’s incentive program, which ran from 2011 to 2014 and handed out rebates for the buyers of 950 vehicles.

Under this phase — Phase 2 — 1,100 vehicles have been purchased.

“It’s been extremely well received,” says New Car Dealers Association of BC president Blair Qualey. “Technology has really made a difference in what’s available to consumers now in British Columbia who may want to choose an electric or fuel cell vehicle. We strongly encourage the government to support the incentive program and to build infrastructure for charging stations.”

As for the province, Energy Minister Bill Bennett says he’s going to try to come up with the dough to keep the program going.

“Having more people drive electric cars is one of the most obvious ways we can reduce emissions,” Bennett tells NEWS 1130.

“It is a program that clearly the public is ready for. Car dealers have done a good job of making cars available, especially in the Lower Mainland. We’ve got a decent charging network. It’s the best charging network in the country right now. I’m going to try, as minister, to find some more money to put into this program for a Phase 3 — if I can make it happen.”

Beyond rebates, the province also set aside $1.59 million for electric charging and hydrogen fuelling stations back in April.