$5K incentive to buy EVs on P.E.I. will be game changer, says energy consultant

·4 min read
A plan announced last week to have all cars on Island roads be electric by 2030 is not realistic, says industry expert Jeff Turner.  (John Robertson/CBC - image credit)
A plan announced last week to have all cars on Island roads be electric by 2030 is not realistic, says industry expert Jeff Turner. (John Robertson/CBC - image credit)

A rebate for buying new or used electric vehicles announced in the P.E.I. provincial budget will make a significant difference for interested buyers, says an energy consultant.

Last week, P.E.I. Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Action Steven Myers said he wants to see all Islanders driving electric vehicles by 2030 — just nine years from now — to meet P.E.I.'s net-zero emissions target.

He kicked off a $500,000 incentive program that will give Islanders $5,000 off any new or used electric vehicle purchased from an Island dealership. It's also offering $2,500 off plug-in hybrids and a free Level 2 charging station.

"That sounds pretty ambitious," said Jeff Turner, a senior research lead with Dunsky Energy Consulting in Montreal, in an interview with Island Morning's Laura Chapin.

He said he thinks P.E.I.'s incentives are going to be a game changer in convincing Islanders to adopt this type of transportation, because it will help with the higher up-front costs of these vehicles.

"Even though we know that EVs can save a lot of money over the long run, they can typically save somewhere in the order of $1,500 a year in fuel savings ... that up-front cost is really important, even if they're going to save in the long run," Turner said.

'Big impact on the potential for sales'

"I think they're really going to have a big impact on the potential for sales in the province."

Turner said it's important for targets to be realistic, and that his company has done a lot of research to help governments try to get a sense of the likely pace of adoption of electric vehicles.

He points out the federal government has a target of 30 per cent of all new vehicle sales be electric vehicles by 2030.

"We think that target is definitely achievable, but something like 100 per cent of the vehicles in circulation by 2030? That's probably out of reach. In fact, I would say certainly that's out of reach," Turner said.

Currently there are about 100 electric vehicles being driven on P.E.I., Turner said, but he expects that to increase with the incentives.

EV plans elsewhere

Quebec and British Columbia have the most ambitious electric vehicle plans in Canada.

The Quebec government offers buyers an $8,000 incentive on electric vehicles, in an attempt to reach its goal of 100 per cent of new vehicles purchased to be electric vehicles by 2035. Turner believes it will likely be into the 2040s before all vehicles on Quebec roads are powered by electricity, both new and used.

Right now about 10 per cent of B.C.'s new vehicle sales are EVs.

The province will spend $500,000 on the new incentive program.
The province will spend $500,000 on the new incentive program.(Nicola MacLeod/CBC)

The federal government has also set a target that 30 per cent of all new vehicle sales in the country be EVs by 2030, and is offering $5,000 in rebates.

The new provincial incentive can be combined with the federal government rebate — giving eligible Islanders up to $10,000 off the price of a newly purchased electric vehicle.

Rebate for used EVs 'really helpful'

Turner offered praise for P.E.I.'s plan to also offer the rebate on used electric vehicles, saying this should help increase the supply of vehicles to the Island.

"A lot of people just don't buy new vehicles," he said. "So I think it's really helpful that we have cash on the table for that portion of the market as well."

He points out that Quebec, where there are more than 90,000 electric vehicles on the road, could be a good source for used electric vehicles for P.E.I.

The P.E.I. government plans to double the number of charging stations on the Island, Minister Steven Myers said last week.
The P.E.I. government plans to double the number of charging stations on the Island, Minister Steven Myers said last week. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

How much does an electric vehicle cost? It depends mostly on how far the battery will take you. Turner said several plug-in hybrid models between $30,000 and $40,000 will typically take you 40 to 70 kilometres, enough for most daily commutes, and a gas engine that'll turn on automatically for longer trips.

A lot of people just don't buy new vehicles. — Jeff Turner

For non-hybrid electric battery vehicles, there are a couple options offering a range of about 200 kilometres for under $40,000, then a number of longer range options offering about 350 to 425 kilometres for around $45,000, he said.

The P.E.I. Automobile Dealers Association said it is also happy with the new incentive program, especially the fact that it is being offered through Island dealerships.

"It is important to buy local to support our local economy. The automobile industry is a large generator of retail tax revenue for the province," said Adam Toner, the association's vice-president, in a written release.

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