My partner and I live in Vancouver and we drive a 2011 Jeep Compass that breaks down often. We are planning on moving somewhere affordable, probably in rural Quebec, in the next year or so. We will need a more stable vehicle there and are only willing to buy an electric vehicle, for both economic and environmental reasons.
We want something with a good range that handles the snow with no problem. Any recommendations? Should we buy in British Columbia before we move or wait until we arrive in la belle province? – Cam
Mark Richardson: The easy first answer is to buy in Quebec. British Columbia offers generous rebates for electric vehicles, but Quebec is the most generous province. In B.C., you could qualify for $3,000 off the price, but in Quebec, you’ll get up to $8,000.
Petrina Gentile: And then there’s the federal rebate of $5,000 as well.
Richardson: Right – so in Quebec, a $45,000 EV will immediately become a $32,000 EV, which is probably better value than the equivalent gas-powered vehicle. It’s a whole different market in Quebec right now.
Gentile: This is one reason why manufacturers send their electric cars to Quebec dealerships first.
Richardson: That, and Quebec fines automakers who don’t sell enough EVs. Last year, for example, Mazda paid Quebec more than $11-million in penalties, and another $4-million to B.C., which has just started imposing penalties. So in Quebec, all the makers really, really want to sell electric cars.
Gentile: Zero-emissions mandates are a big way to move electric vehicles nowadays, but rebates certainly help consumers because there is a price premium to pay for going green. The Liberal government just unveiled its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, which includes more than $9-billion to help boost rebates on EVs and build more infrastructure. It’s a step in the right direction.
Richardson: So, what vehicle would you recommend Cam buys in Quebec? I’d start with the Volkswagen ID.4. All-wheel drive and a heat pump for better range in cold temperatures – that’s what he wants.
Gentile: Volkswagen ID.4 is a good place to start. It has a range of around 420 kilometres in ideal, warm-weather conditions, and VW has partnered with Electrify Canada to provide three years of DC public fast-charging for free at Electrify Canada stations. But here’s the bad news: all VW ID.4s are sold out for 2022. Cam can try to pre-order a 2023 model.
Richardson: Probably all the vehicles we’d recommend here are sold out, but the 2023s might be available in the late fall. Cam should be ordering now if he wants an EV before the end of this year.
Gentile: Cam should definitely act fast. He should also look at VW’s luxurious cousin, the Audi Q4 e-tron SUV. It seats five, has all-wheel drive, and a range of about 380 kilometres. Starting price is just under $60,000.
Richardson: Cam’s coming off a Jeep Liberty. I don’t think he wants to spend that kind of money on a vehicle. Though with all the “more affordable” electric SUVs, it will cost extra for all-wheel drive. The ID.4, for example, will cost $5,000 more, though it also has more power and more technology.
Gentile: Fair enough. If Cam wants a more affordable vehicle, he should definitely look at the new Nissan Ariya, Nissan’s second all-electric vehicle after the Leaf began production more than a decade ago.
Richardson: There’s been a lot of interest in the Ariya because Nissan was so far in front with the Leaf. There’s a lot expected of it. Have you driven it?
Gentile: I haven’t driven it yet, but I did get to see a preproduction model when it came to Toronto earlier this year. It’s very striking in design. It comes with two battery choices: a standard 63 kilowatt-hour and a longer-range 87 kilowatt-hour battery pack, both with all-wheel drive. Power varies from 214 to 389 horsepower and range varies from 328 to 482 kilometres.
Richardson: It sounds just like the ID.4 and the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which are all good buys. These brand-new vehicles have similar specs that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. If Cam likes the look of it, he should try to put down his deposit now, though Nissan’s already closed its online reservations for the Ariya.
Gentile: And don’t forget there’s also the Toyota bZ4X all-electric SUV – I just drove it in San Diego. It’s impressive, too. It comes in front or all-wheel drive with a range of up to 406 kilometres.
Richardson: All these vehicles have such similar specifications, and often similar prices, too. Much of it comes down to consumer confidence in the automaker, and to being able to actually buy one while they’re in such short supply.
Gentile: Yes, Toyota’s bZ4X also starts below the $45,000 sweet spot, and the Japanese automaker certainly has consumer confidence. But Cam will have to wait for it, too.
Richardson: We were criticized in our last column for recommending vehicles that have long wait times to order, but there’s little choice right now for someone who wants to buy an EV. It’s due to the overall shortage of microchips, and the sudden demand from the hike in gas prices.
Gentile: Exactly. There’s a wait for everything. But I think Cam should get on the list now for the all-wheel drive version of the bZ4X. I think it’ll be worth the wait.
Richardson: If he’s keen on the Toyota, he should also look at the Subaru Solterra. The two vehicles were developed in a partnership and are similar. The Subaru might have more availability, especially in Quebec, where the company doesn’t have any other EVs to avoid those hefty fines to the government.
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