Rebates to rev up electric cars

B.C. offers breaks for clean vehicles, charge stations

New car buyers in B.C. will get a break of up to $5,000 if they choose a vehicle powered by electricity, hydrogen or compressed natural gas.

The point-of-sale rebate unveiled by the provincial government is part of $17 million in funding to help rev up the future of clean energy vehicles in B.C.

The $2,500-to-$5,000 rebate starts Dec. 1 and covers qualifying new battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell electric, plug-in hybrid electric and natural gas models.

“Manufacturers are eager to launch their new electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel cell cars in markets that demonstrate both high demand and with infrastructure in place,” New Car Dealers Association of B.C. CEO Blair Qualey said.

“B.C. is now one of those markets.”

New Democrats noted incentives for electric cars aren’t new — B.C. had exempted them from PST until 2008.

But Environment Minister Terry Lake predicted the rebates will encourage buyers to go green by reducing the cost of vehicles with little to no emissions.

Battery-powered electric cars cost as little as $300 per year in electricity compared to $1,500 or more for a gas-powered vehicle.

Homeowners can also get an up to $500 rebate through LiveSmartBC if they install dedicated electric vehicle battery charging stations in their homes.

That covers about a third of the cost of the specialized outlets, which cut recharging times in half to about six hours.

Lake also pledged $6.5 million for electric vehicle charging points and upgrading existing hydrogen fueling stations.

Surrey recently unveiled free public electric vehicle charging stations at its city hall and is already host to two hydrogen fueling stations.

Mercedes-Benz Canada plans to make fuel cell stacks for hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles at a plant in Burnaby.

B.C. is also extending the Scrap-It program, which offers owners of heavily polluting older vehicles either cash or incentives like bus passes or car-share memberships to take their old gas guzzler off the road.

The push towards electric cars will put more pressure on B.C.’s power grid.

Green energy advocate David Field said B.C. needs to ensure the required power comes from renewable clean sources, not imported coal-fired electricity.

The province is trying to restrain electricity rate increases at B.C. Hydro, raising doubts about whether it will continue to pay extra for green energy to foster new run-of-river power plants and windmills.

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