British Columbia (B.C.) has quietly cut its incentives for new clean energy vehicles by 40%, while topping up funding available through its program.
The announcement came in a June 22, 2019 (Saturday) press release that highlighted the additional funding being poured into the program. The cut in the rebate – from $5,000 to $3,000 for battery, fuel-cell, and longer-range plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and from $2,500 to $1,500 for shorter-range plug-in hybrid electric vehicles – took the buying public by surprise. The government was forced to issue a quick clarification that the original rebate would remain payable for qualifying vehicles that had been reserved at the time of the June 22, 2019 announcement.
Eligibility rules have also been tightened. The rebate is now available on vehicles with a suggested retail price of $55,000 or less. The cut-off had been $77,000.
Though it is cutting its rebate, the government is topping up the program. The government promised $41.5 million for rebates in its 2019 budget, but released only $15 million of that amount. The balance, $26.5 million, has now been added.
Clean emission vehicle sales in B.C. have taken off, according to the government, particularly since the May 1, 2019 addition of a federal rebate of $2,500 to $5,000 for qualifying vehicles. The federal rebate applies on top of any provincial rebate. According to the province, clean emission vehicle sales accounted for four percent of new light-duty vehicle sales in B.C. in 2018 and were up to approximately six percent in the first quarter of 2019. The combined federal and provincial incentives have led to a two-fold to three-fold increase in program participation over 2018.