Ontario electric car subsidies: Will other countries follow?

Image copyright AFP Image caption Ontario Power Generation CEO Joseph Staniszewski shows a Tesla Model S being loaded onto a semi-truck on Oct. 23, 2018

Donald Trump has been hailing the scrapping of government subsidies for electric cars in Ontario.

But Toronto’s Premier Doug Ford and environment minister Rod Phillips are not so sure they get it.

“We’ve made this change without assistance from the federal government,” Mr Ford said at a press conference in southwestern Ontario.

“We haven’t got any federal assistance whatsoever.”

We will not be subsidising this. [You] have to go out and get it yourself. Image caption Doug Ford says scrapping of subsidies won’t impact companies that got long-term loans

But the federal government says it does not have to be Canadian to use the benefits.

Mr Phillips agreed with Mr Ford.

“We had $58m committed to support those [electric] vehicle manufacturers, and that will not be ongoing now,” he said.

Image copyright Alfred Mann Image caption Cadillac Fairview has manufactured electric cars in Halton Region since 2010

Both Mr Ford and Mr Phillips said the government’s new policy will not affect companies like the large retailer Cadillac Fairview, which has been building electric cars since 2010.

Cadillac Fairview, which supplies auto showrooms for clients, has no plans to buy Chevrolet models that are funded by government subsidies and no such plans to build cars in Ontario, a spokesman for the company has told Al Jazeera.

“We are not looking to build any more EVs,” the spokesman said, although Cadillac Fairview still plans to sell electric versions of its now parked car showrooms.

Electric vehicle charge incentives The government says the move is not meant to kill the electric vehicle sector, but rather to stimulate manufacturing in the sector. In Ontario, there are more than 70 charge point networks across the province and more than 5,000 electric vehicles on Ontario roads. However, Tesla can be charged $600 for installation fees compared to thousands of other charging stations. Source: Ontario Environment Ministry

“We have 30 full-time jobs working on the project right now,” manager George Smith said.

“We’ve had great support and we are continuing to grow and be responsible.”

A Tesla spokesperson said the company in question could not comment on any specific relationship.

Existing loans given to car makers, such as that given to Nissan, are meant to incentivise investment and employment in what the government says is an important industry.

“I cannot understate how much the Minister of Environment for this province appreciates and appreciates the efforts of [electric vehicle] companies,” Mr Phillips said.

“There are families in this province whose jobs exist because of the work that they’ve done,” he added.

By every metric, Canada provides its largest subsidies for electric cars.

Canada’s federal government makes at least $2bn a year in grants and tax incentives to consumers for electric vehicles, according to a report by the National Bank of Canada.

The Conservative Opposition under Mr Ford has argued for years that such incentives were driving up prices, making them less affordable for people across the country.

In 2017, the then-minister of energy and environment, Andrew Younger, promised that electric vehicles would cost less than $40,000 when installed.

But, in its December 2017 budget, the federal government said it was scrapping its $10bn (Dh36.3bn) Convergence Fund, which had helped subsidise electric vehicle purchases and grants.

The prime minister called it a “bold and significant step forward in turning our ship of state away from dependence on an unsustainable status quo and toward a clean, independent and innovative new economy”.

Media playback is not supported on this device “We need an end to subsidies in all countries,” says environment minister Rod Phillips.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also distanced himself from the subsidies.

“I’ve always thought we should phase them out because they’re expiring and the model we should be adopting is ones that reward manufacturers and employers who invest and actually create more jobs than the ones they’re trying to phase out,” he said at a cabinet meeting in June.

The Canadian government said it intends to bring more transparency to its support for electric vehicle makers.

Leave a Comment