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Electric vehicle sales stalled after end of provincial rebates

Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles have dropped more than 50 per cent in Ontario over the past year, according to data provided by a non-profit advocacy group.

Advocates say incentives are key to sales

Sales of electric and hybrid vehicles have dropped more than 50 per cent in Ontario over the past year, according to data provided by a non-profit advocacy group.

Electric Mobility Canada recently released a report on electric vehicle sales compiling data from Statistics Canada and IHS Markit, a market analysis firm.

During the first quarter of 2018, 2,633 electric vehicles were sold in Ontario. During the same time period this year, that number dropped to 1,219.

Electric Mobility Canada attributes at least part of this decline to the end of Ontario's Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program (EHVIP) in July 2018.

The program offered drivers between $5,000 and $14,000 to buy new environmentally friendly vehicles from a range of auto manufacturers.

A spokesperson for General Motors Canada confirmed it has experienced a decline in electric vehicle sales since last July and it has noticed a similar trend with their competitors.

Government said cancelling rebate could save $1B

"Definitely, there was quite a significant decline," said Cara Clairman, the president and CEO of Plug'n Drive, a non-profit group promoting electric vehicles."Especially right after the rebates were cut."

Sales of electric vehicles had been steadily increasing in the province since 2013, the organization noted in a February 2019 report.

The Ontario government argued that cancelling its Electric and Hydrogen Vehicle Incentive Program could save "taxpayers up to an estimated $1 billion over four years."

A man plugs in his a Volkswagen e-Golf at a charging station at Lansdowne Mall in Peterborough, Ontario on Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Doug Ives/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

New federal program just kicked in

Quebec and British Columbia are now the only provinces offering a subsidy for the purchase of an electric vehicle. In Quebec, the demand for electric vehicles is growing.

"The offer was anemic before that," said Martin Archambault, a spokesperson for the Quebec Electric Vehicle Association (AVÉQ), in a French-language interview.

Archambault believes that government subsidies are key to increasing the popularity of electric vehicles.

"Across the globe, it's a crucial element to foster this transition," he said.

The new federal incentive program that kicked in in May, with rebates up to $5,000, could motivate sales in Ontario.

According to Electric Mobility Canada, there were 93,091 electric vehicles on Canada's roads at the end of 2018. About 42 per cent were in Quebec, followed by Ontario with 37 per cent and British Columbia with 18 per cent.

With files from Radio-Canada's Audrey Roy

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