The provincial government of Ontario introduced a cap on electric vehicle rebates last year. The province already had one of the most generous incentive programs for electric cars in the country ranging between $5000 - $8500 per vehicle. But revisions in the incentives boosted the subsidies to $6000 - $10,000 per vehicle and an extra $3000 for larger battery capabilities and an additional $1000 if the vehicle has 5 seats. Such incentives put less expensive electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Spark EV at $31,745. And earlier this month, tweaks were made. What was originally set at a maximum subsidy of $3000 for purchases of electric cars costing between $75,000 - $150,000 was replaced, allowing cars within that range to be eligible for the maximum incentive of $14,000. These tweaks has the province in uproar for two reasons.
First, the wealthy of the province took advantage of the incentives. Although, I do not blame them, if I had the opportunity, I would have done the same. But nevertheless, people are upset because they felt if someone could afford an extremely luxurious vehicle, they probably don't need to take the $5000 subsidy from the common folk. Five millionaires received an average of $5538 in incentives for purchasing the Porsche 918 Spyder. The supercar retailed at about $1.1 million each. Porsche only made only 918 of the handcrafted super car which sold out within a year. Currently a used Porsche 918 Spyder with only 355 km on the odometer is currently for sale at a Montreal dealership for $2,050,000. "Why are we subsidizing luxury vehicles for millionaires?" asked Christine Van Geyn, Ontario's director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne reiterated that kind of contempt, "If anybody's paying that amount of money for a car, they probably don't need a $5000 rebate, I get that." Bob Nichols, the Transportation Ministry spokesperson in a statement said "The programs objectives at this time were to support the adoption of electric vehicles and to incentivize early adopters."
The Spyders were not the only vehicles the wealthy purchased that taxpayers are subsidizing for.
Since the program's inception in 2010 until the changes were announced, Ontario has granted over $39 million in incentives for electric vehicle adoption to 4793 drivers. While the success of this program is debatable, the mostly purchased vehicle is the Chevrolet Volt Hatchback with 1200 owners getting rebates totaling almost $10 million. "If we're talking about encouraging an average family to buy a Chevy Volt instead of a non-electric vehicle then sure, I think that makes a lot of sense," NDP leader Andrea Horwath. "But when you're talking about millionaires and luxury vehicles it makes no sense whatsoever. I don't think people in Ontario would support that type of rebate, it's excessive." The Transportation Minister defended the tweaks as "It is about giving people more of an opportunity to enter this particular segment of the market, as that segment of the market is growing, because I think there's a collective understanding we need to do more to fight climate change, particularly in the transportation area.
Ontario stated transportation emissions account for 35 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the province - the single largest source. Secondly, the policy director to Environment and Climate Change Minister Glen Murray, Ian Myrans left his post to join Tesla this month. At the same time, the government had announced removing the cap on electric car incentives which had previously prevented Tesla models from obtaining the maximum amount of incentives. "This certainly doesn't pass the smell test," deputy PC Leader Steve Clark said Thursday during Question Period. While Murray denies any connection between the change in policy and Myran's move to join Tesla. "This is someone who followed all the rules, a man of immense character and great integrity." "As soon as he was approached about a job possibility, he immediately went to the [provincial] integrity commissioner to have those discussions before anything else happened." Murray also stated the changes was made by the Ministry of Transportation, and it was decided before Myran's was approached to work for Tesla. While it does seem nothing illegal was done, the integrity of the Transportation Ministry does seem to have been damaged.