Ontario rebates aim to spark electric car sales

Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:36pm EDT
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By John McCrank

TORONTO (Reuters) - The province of Ontario moved on Wednesday to reduce the sticker shock of plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles by offering rebates of between C$4,000 ($3,570) and C$10,000, starting July 1, 2010.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said the aim was to have one out of every 20 vehicles in Canada's most populous province to be electrically powered by 2020.

"This will be the most attractive rebate, certainly in North America," McGuinty said at a press conference. "It may be the most attractive rebate ... in the world."

Buyers of electric cars will also get special green license plates that will allow them to use carpool lanes, even if there is only one person in the vehicle, as well as access to public charging facilities and parking at Ontario government and GO Transit commuter lots.

The government also committed to adding 500 electric vehicles to its public service fleet.

The size of the rebate will depend on the vehicle's battery capacity. Plug-ins can be more environmentally friendly than regular gasoline-electric hybrids as they can run purely on electricity, but the need for bigger batteries makes them more costly.

McGuinty made the announcement while standing in front of a Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in electric hybrid that General Motors Corp plans to roll out by late 2010.

The Volt is expected to cost US$40,000, with the large, lithium ion battery making up a good chunk of the cost.   Continued...