The province has announced a new incentive program to encourage more Islanders to purchase electric vehicles.
Starting this spring, Islanders will receive $5,000 off any new or used electric vehicle purchased from an Island dealership. There will also be a $2,500 incentive for plug-in hybrids.
Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Action Steven Myers says he'd like to see P.E.I. become the first province with net-zero emissions, and this program is part of that plan.
"To meet our energy targets that we've set for 2030, we would want to have all electric vehicles," said Myers after the announcement Thursday afternoon.
"Our number one contributor to carbon here in Prince Edward Island is transportation, so if we can electrify all the vehicles on the road, then we will tackle that number really quickly."
As part of the program, anyone who purchases an electric vehicle new or used, will also receive a free Level-2 charging station, which can charge an electric vehicle in a few hours.
'Make it more equitable'
The $500,000 program was mentioned in P.E.I.'s 2021-22 operating budget, released last week, but no program details were provided until Thursday. The start date of the program will be announced after the budget passes.
Islanders will see the incentive come off their total at the dealership. Myers said the dealers will then apply to the province for reimbursement.
Myers said the department is trying to get Islanders across all income brackets into electric vehicles, and called the plan both "aggressive" and "equitable."
"People that are in lower income brackets, today, EVs are more affordable for them," he said.
Myers used the example of someone who could not afford a brand new $55,000 vehicle, but may be able to use the incentive and get a bank loan to acquire a used car that costs around $25,000.
"That's going to help a lot more people … we're trying to make it more equitable," he said.
"We still have a lot of work to do to get into the most vulnerable section and we'll continue to work there."
One of the concerns with electric vehicles is how far a charged battery will get and the time it takes to recharge compared to a gas-powered vehicle that can be refuelled in minutes.
Myers said part of his department's work will be to educate people to dispel the myth that you can't own one in a rural area.
He said many electric vehicles are capable of at least 500 kilometres on a single charge.
"I don't know where you would go on P.E.I. in a given day where that would be an issue," he said.
"Maybe it's not for you, but for the 99 per cent of the people who would never drive 500 kilometres in one day, you're going to be OK."
Myers said there are "legitimate charging options right across the Island" but the department is looking to double the number of charging stations as well.
He said there will also be investments in Level-3 chargers, which can typically charge a vehicle in about an hour.
"That's where the money really is for us," he said. "That's how we're really going to get people into it."
Supply and demand
A study released in the fall showed that electric vehicles are hard to come by on P.E.I., with only a handful of vehicles available on dealership lots.
"Part of the thing that we've always heard is that you get the rebates in place and the cars will come, because everybody wants to be selling you their vehicle, so today we've become a competitor in the marketplace in Canada," Myers said.
"I expect that you're going to see the mainstream car companies here start putting a lot more electric cars on their lot."
Jeff Farwell is the CEO and owner of All EV, an electric car retailer operating in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. The company also offers courses to educate people about owning an electric vehicle.
He calls issues around supply of vehicles "a myth."
"What we do is specialize in bringing EVs from out of province and we are constantly buying up inventory through the U.S., through Ontario, through Quebec, wherever they may be and bringing them here," he said.
"That's our job"
P.E.I. is the fourth province to offer an electric vehicle incentive, behind Quebec, B.C. and Nova Scotia — which announced its progam last month.
The new provincial incentive can also be combined with the federal government's rebate programming — giving eligible Islanders up to $10,000 off the price of a newly purchased electric vehicle.
With the new incentives being announced in Nova Scotia and now P.E.I., Farwell said they will be working more aggressively to bring cars to the region.
"The less attractive step, but a step that other jurisdictions have taken is mandating that, you know, a certain number of cars on the lot have to be electric," Myers said.
"Let's see how they do with what offerings are on the table here first and we'll evaluate it, you know, probably when this year's over."
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