Ontario sweetens incentives for electric vehicle buyers

Ontario's Liberal government has "modernized" its electric vehicle incentive program with a richer cash-back offer and added bonuses based on a vehicle's battery size and the number of seats.

Under the new program, the basic electric vehicle incentive ranges from $6,000 to $10,000, up from $5,000 to $8,500.

A new $3,000 incentive applies to vehicles with "larger capacity batteries," but it's not clear whether that's tied to a separate statement that mentions battery capacity of "more than five kilowatt-hours." This carrot would apply to all full-electric vehicles, and most plug-in hybrids: the Chevrolet Volt has an 18.4-kWh battery, the Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid's is a 9.8-kWh unit, and the Ford Fusion Energi has a 7.2-kWh pack.

Another new $1,000 bonus applies to vehicles with at least five seats; the province will also provide $1,000 toward the purchase and installation of chargers for homes and businesses.

The new rules make a distinction between affordable electrics and more exotic battery-powered vehicles by placing a $3,000 cap on incentives for vehicles priced between $75,000 and $150,000. That includes high-end models like the Tesla Model S (which a Canadian starting price of $95,300) and forthcoming Model X crossover, which is expected to start at more than $130,000 USD. It also comes into play on Porsche's Cayenne E-Hybrid ($87,700) and Panamera E-Hybrid ($106,600), the government's obvious aim being to focus incentives on making electric vehicles more attainable for drivers on tighter budgets.

Ontario says the new rebates are retroactive to Jan 1, 2016, so anyone who has purchased an eligible vehicle this year can apply.

New program caps rebates on "exotic" electrics