Last month sales of the Nissan Leaf jumped by 179 per cent and sales of Nissan’s battery car have almost doubled year-on-year.
So the Leaf is on the move. That’s the good news. The bad news you find in the actual sales numbers, not the percentages – at least if you’re Nissan with a multi-billion dollar investment in pure electric vehicles (EVs). Canadians bought 117 Leafs in July and have silently driven home 579 in total this year.
Honda’s Civic, Canada’s best-selling car, typically moves off dealer lots at a rate of about 6,000 or so a month. The Civic sells in big numbers because it’s affordable for middle class buyers, has proven reliability and is even assembled in Ontario. At $15,690, the Civic starts at half the price of Leaf at $31,698.
That is, before the Nissan buyer gets a taxpayer subsidy. Taxpayers in two provinces get a gift: $8,500 in Ontario and $8,000 in Quebec. In Ontario, the subsidy whittles down the final price of Leaf to $23,198.
At $23,198, you might wonder why so few people are buying a Leaf. The answer is simple: mainstream consumers who need to balance the household budget cannot make sense out of driving an EV – too expensive, too limited in terms of range and overall flexibility, too much a risk in many, many ways.
Yet today, of the three provinces who have offered subsidies for EVs, only British Columbia has pulled the plug. B.C. taxpayers spent $14.3-million in the Clean Energy Vehicle Program and then wisely stopped asking middle class people to help the wealthy feel good about driving a “green” car.
Make no mistake, only people with extra money in the budget can afford an EV. Yes, the after-subsidy price of a Leaf is close to a nicely equipped Civic, but no one who owns a Leaf can own ONLY a Leaf and live a normal life with trips to the cottage and such. A battery car with limited range is a luxury item for most households that also need a “traditional” car to live a normal life..
It is, then, time for governments to stop the taxpayer subsidies for wealthy car owners. If you live in Ontario and want a BMW i3 ($44,950 base), pay for it yourself. That $8,500 taxpayer handout is wrong.
The same for all the rest of the EVs and plug-ins sold in Ontario. If you want a Tesla Model S ($78,970 base) or a $113,300 Porsche Panamera SE-Hybrid Sedan or a $78,250 Cadillac ELR, pay for it yourself. Taxpayers should not being handing out $8,500 to the Tesla buyer, $6,346.00 to the Porsche buyer, and $8,231 to the Caddy buyer.
When middle class people buying $20,000 Civics are subsidizing rich people buying $113,300 Porsches, something is very wrong.
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