Now that the dust has settled from the Tesla's Model 3 reveal, with the realization that it won't arrive until late 2017 (at best), some of those 150,000 people who've put down $1,000 deposits may want to look at other options.
Good news: There are affordable electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in showrooms now, albeit none with the 330-kilometre range of the Tesla.
Governments are sweetening the deal on EVs in an effort to jump-start the market and slow climate change. British Columbia finally granted access to the HOV lanes for EVs and plug-ins, even without passengers. Quebec offers rebates up to $8,000.
Ontario took a bigger step, upping the rebates on EVs to a maximum of $14,000 through the revised Electric Vehicles Incentive Program. Great. Except getting the full amount back isn't easy. You've got to pick the right vehicle. Here's your cheat sheet:
The $95,000 Tesla Model S gets a $3,000 rebate. The Model X is the same. The base $40,090 Chevy Volt is eligible for $11,489, which equates to a whopping 29 per cent discount. The $150,000 BMW i8 gets zero rebate.
Why? Cars $150,000 and over get nothing. Cars between $75,000 and $150,000 get a maximum rebate of $3,000. Cars with five or more seats get a $1,000 bonus. Battery size dictates the rest, but the rebate can't be more than 30 per cent of the MSRP.
So the sweet spot is five-seaters with big batteries (more than 16 kilowatt-hours) priced from $46,667 to $75,000. Find one of those and you'll get $14,000 back in Ontario.
The hitch: A car like that doesn't exist. No vehicles are currently eligible for the full rebate.
The second-best selling EV in Canada, after the Tesla Model S, is the Nissan Leaf. It gets between $9,600 and $12,100 in cash back.
Today the biggest Ontario EV incentives are on the Cadillac ELR – discontinued in Canada – and the BMW i3 and i3 ReX. Those get you $13,000 if you purchase or take a three-year lease.
That makes the i3 in particular an extremely tempting proposition, bringing the pretax price down to around $32,300 for the fully-electric BMW. It starts at $45,300 before the incentive, has four seats, a great interior and range of 130-160 kilometres. The range is poor compared to the Model 3's quoted 346 kilometres, but the 2017 i3 is slated for a battery upgrade rumoured to boost range to around 200.
The Model 3, however, ticks all the Ontario incentive boxes: five seats, a big battery and a starting price of $35,000 (U.S.) which equates to about $45,000. After all that, the Model 3 might be the first vehicle to qualify for the full $14,000 EV incentive in Ontario, provided the program is still around when the Model 3 arrives in two years.
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