Hefty rebates for businesses and local governments that buy electric vehicles are getting the support of the folks responsible for selling those EVs.
The province announced a new CleanBC Specialty-Use Vehicle Incentive (SUVI) and a Commercial Vehicle Pilot (CVP) program on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
“We’re offering stronger support for B.C. businesses to go electric by doubling existing rebates and adding new offers for commercial vehicles,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.
The SUVI program will receive $31 million in funding via StrongerBC, the COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
Businesses, local governments, and non-profits that buy specialty-use zero-emission vehicles can receive rebates worth up to 33 per cent of the total cost, up to $100,000 per vehicle, from the previous $50,000 maximum.
Because tourism and hospitality businesses were hit so hard by the pandemic, businesses in those sectors, including restaurants, are eligible for double the rebates, up to 66% off a medium- or heavy-duty vehicle, including one used for food delivery.
Although aimed at encouraging the adoption of larger vehicles, businesses can also put the rebate towards smaller special-use EVs, including motorcycles and low-speed utility trucks, and even cargo e-bikes, which combine human muscle power with a small electric motor.
“Investing in 21st-century infrastructure through rebates for electric vehicles will mean more tourism businesses can adopt cleaner, greener transportation options for when it is safe to welcome visitors back to super, natural British Columbia,” said Melanie Mark, Minister for Tourism.
In 2018, the commercial transport sector accounted for about 60 per cent of B.C.’s transport emissions and 22 per cent of total CO2 emissions in the province.
“We’re pleased to see the extra resources available,” said Blair Qualey, CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C., which is based in Langley.
Qualey said federal and provincial governments have been giving a boost to the adoption of light electric cars – mostly for personal use – for about a decade now.
There have been rebates offered, as well as government funding to create a network of charging stations, many of which are located at municipal offices and rec centre sites.
Those rebates, in B.C. and elsewhere, spurred manufacturers to offer more options to consumers, and the cost of electric vehicles has come down as ranges have improved.
“On the heavy-duty side, I think this will do the same thing,” Quaale said.
Darren Graham, CEO of the Applewood Auto Group, was also hopeful about the options.
Right now, there aren’t too many electric delivery vehicles available for purchase in Canada, although quite a few are either on sale in other jurisdictions, or announced for the near future.
Graham noted that Nissan has been making electric cars for about a decade now, and in Europe they sell an electric version of the NV200 work van.
On the same scale, Ford has announced electric versions of its similar Transit line for 2022, and GM launched BrightDrop, a new brand for larger electric cargo delivery vans.
On the public transportation side, TransLink has an aggressive plan to transition to a largely electric bus fleet.