The Ford F-150 is going electric, but Ontario buyers won't get any rebates or incentives

The recent unveiling of an all-electric version of Canada’s top selling vehicle could apply new pressure on the Ontario government to restore an incentive program for electric vehicles, industry analysts say.

Doug Ford government scrapped rebate program that offered up to $14K

The new all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning performance pickup truck is revealed at a livestream event at Ford World Headquarters on May 19, 2021 in Dearborn, Mich. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

The recent unveiling of an all-electric version of Canada's top selling vehicle could apply new pressure on the Ontario government to restore an incentive program for electric vehicles, industry analysts say.

Ford revealed last week a new version of its hugely popular pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning, which will become the company's first battery-powered truck when it goes on sale in 2023.

The F-150 has been Canada's top selling vehicle for 11 years in a row.

"If we want people to get into electric, we have to offer them the makes and models that they want," said Cara Clairman, president and CEO of Plug'n Drive, a non-profit that promotes electric vehicles.

"This truck is something they want," she said.

Pricing for the new F-150 Lightning starts at $58,000, though fully loaded versions with a larger battery pack and more bells and whistles are expected to exceed six-figures.

In the U.S., much of the initial reaction to the truck's unveiling centred on its lower-than-anticipated price, especially when factoring in various federal and state credits that are available to buyers of zero-emission vehicles.

But in Ontario, anyone opting for an electric F-150 will not enjoy the same financial benefits as many American buyers.

The Doug Ford government in 2018 cancelled a program that offered up to $14,000 in rebates for electric vehicles. Sales of those vehicles took a sharp downward turn following the program's cancellation.

Experts say the expected massive demand for the F-150 Lightning could spur the province to reconsider that decision. There is hope that such a reversal could jump start electric vehicle sales and help Ontario achieve its long-term emission reduction goals.

'There definitely will be some pressure'

"I'm pretty confident that the Ontario government is going to think about this," said Daniel Breton, president and CEO of Electric Mobility Canada, another electric vehicle advocacy group.

Breton said Ontario's recent investment in electric vehicle manufacturing infrastructure, including at Ford's Oakville Assembly Plant, suggests the province may be ready to change its tune on electric vehicles.

"The Ontario government and the federal government decided to support the manufacturing of electric vehicles in Ontario," Breton explained. "So it only makes sense that Ontario would … bring back the program."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford cancelled an electric vehicle rebate created by the previous Liberal government, arguing that it only helped people buying expensive cars. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Clairman, however, is not convinced that the current Progressive Conservative government will be interested in offering rebates or financial incentives to consumers.

"There definitely will be some pressure," she told CBC Toronto. 

"I would be surprised if our current provincial government implemented any kind of incentives, that's not been something they've shown any interest in."

Investments and driver perks, but no cash offered to EV buyers

In an email to CBC Toronto, the province's transportation ministry pointed to several initiatives and recent investments that it says encourage the production and use of electric vehicles.

Among those is the recent $295 million investment (shared with the federal government) to retool Ford's Oakville Assembly Plant, as well as regulatory changes that Ontario says will make it easier for private investors to build electric vehicles in the province.

A spokesperson also highlighted perks for drivers of electric vehicles, such as the increasing availability of charging stations and priority access to HOV lanes.

However, the ministry did not say if it is considering any financial incentive programs for buyers of electric vehicles.

The Tesla Cybertruck is among several all-electric trucks scheduled to go on sale in Canada. (Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images)

The federal government introduced a $5,000 rebate for electric vehicles following the cancellation of Ontario's previous program. However, that program is currently only available for passenger vehicles, and not trucks, though analysts say the impending arrival of several all-electric pickup trucks from major manufacturers will likely cause Ottawa to expand the program.

Quebec offers a rebate of up to $8,000 for electric vehicles with a base price under $60,000, while British Columbia offers up to $3,000 for electric vehicles under $55,000.

Tesla, GMC and Chevrolet are also expected to put their own electric trucks on sale in Canada within the next two to three years.