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Deals of the Week: Will whopping discounts convince buyers to think electric?

2014 Subaru Outback

Subaru

Despite the hype and a serious subsidy push from governments, buyers have yet to plug into battery cars in a serious way.

The reality, says J.D. Power and Associates senior manager Brian Murphy, is "Gasoline is still king, which shouldn't surprise too many people. Ninety-five per cent of the vehicles sold in Canada are strictly gas or flex fuel."

Sales of pure EVs are almost non-existent in Canada, he adds, at well below one per cent of the market. Hybrids haven't been faring much better. They account for about 1.5 per cent of new light vehicle sales in Canada and have done so for the last five years.

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Car makers very clearly see those sad numbers and most likely weep at the poor return on their EV investments. To electrify sales, car companies and their dealers are charging up the incentives on hybrids, plug-in hybrids and gasoline-electric hybrids.

Interested in zipping around the city in a smart fortwo electric? You're looking at a $3,000 factory discount, combined with an incentive of up to $8,500 (in Ontario, less in Quebec and British Columbia) and perhaps a $600 dealer discount. With combined discounts of up to $12,000, that might just turn the switch on sales of a relatively affordable two-seat EV ($29,990).

Shoppers will find a similar story at Ford with the Focus EV. While the manufacturer incentive is a fairly modest $1,000, dealers seem willing to spark interest with discounts that could top $3,000. Add in a taxpayer subsidy (in some provinces) and the $36,199 Focus EV should be on offer with more than $12,000 in price reductions.

And even without taxpayer help, discounts on a well dressed Ford Fusion Titanium Hybrid ($35,499) could add up to more than $5,000. Most of that incentive money is on offer with 0.99 per cent financing for 48 months. Ah, but the Focus EV comes with 0.0 per cent financing for up to 60 months with all but the $1,000 factory rebate.

Will EV sales sweeteners help? Andrew Tai, CEO of pricing service unhaggle.com, thinks they might.

Plug-in and hybrid technology has improved significantly over the past few years and third-party studies show that EV and hybrid reliability is first rate. Tai believes big discounts, government incentives and stable-but-high fuel prices might eventually resonate with city dwellers in need of a car for errands and such. These are drivers who groan at the sight of a gas pump.

"An electric car is starting to become a very practical choice for more than just the die-hard environmentalist," he says.

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Perhaps. Deals of the Week will continue to monitor the actual sales numbers, checking to see if factory enticements are even a little bit successful at jump-starting EV and hybrid sales.

In the meantime, Subaru wants to blow out the last of its 2014 Outback wagons . This year's version stickers at $38,495, but can be had for much less thanks to at least $3,000 in factory discounts and another $2,700 in potential dealer discounts. For 2015, the Outback Limited 3.6R will start at $38,895.

Meanwhile, a Mercedes-Benz C350 with all-wheel drive and plenty of features is on offer with a $1,500 factory deal and perhaps another $2,500 in dealer discounts. And those offers can be "stacked" with 0.90 financing for 48 or 60 months. A new version of the C-Class is in the product pipeline, but the aging design of the outgoing model is still very nice.

Deals of the Week consulted with unhaggle.com, Car Help Canada, carcostcanada.com, and other sources on these offers. As usual, pricing information here is subject to change and dealer discounts vary, so consult your dealer for the final details, including expiry dates for all offers.

2014 Subaru Outback Subaru Subaru  

2014 Subaru Outback 5 door Wagon Auto 3.6R w/Limited & EyeSight Package

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  • MSRP: $39,995
  • Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $1,785
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $2,700
  • Factory discount: $3,000 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $36,080
  • Total price with 13% HST: $40,770.40
  • A $1,000 manufacturer incentive can be combined with 0.90% financing for 48 or 60 months or a 0.90% lease rate for 48 months

2015 Ford Focus Electric Ford Ford  

2014 Ford Focus Electric 5 door hatchback

  • MSRP: $36,199
  • Freight, dealer prep and air conditioning tax: $1,700
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $3,000
  • Factory discount: $1,000 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $33,899
  • Total price with 13% HST: $38,305.87
  • Taxpayer rebate: $8,500
  • Final price: $29,805.87
  • The manufacturer incentive cannot be combined with 0.00% financing for 48 or 60 months or a 0.00% lease rate for 48 months

Smart fortwo: This design is reminiscent of something the cat yakked up. The 2013 model was no beauty, but the retooled 2014 model plunges it to new depths of despair. -- Darren McGee Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz  

2014 Smart fortwo electric drive 2 door Conv Passion

  • MSRP: $29,990
  • Freight, dealer prep, AC tax: $1,430
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $600
  • Factory discount: $3,000 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $27,820
  • Total price with 13% HST: $31,436.60
  • Taxpayer rebate: $8,500
  • Final price: $22,936.60
  • Cash incentives available with 2.90% financing for 48 or 60 months or 2.90% lease rate for 48 months.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 4MATIC Daimler AGDaimler AG - Global Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars Daimler AG 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C350 4MATIC Sedan

  • MSRP: $47,900
  • Freight, PDI, AC tax: $2,625
  • Dealer discount (estimated): $2,500
  • Factory discount: $1,500 (manufacturer incentive)
  • Taxable subtotal: $46,525
  • Total price with 13% HST: $52,573.25
  • The manufacturer incentive is available with 0.90% financing for 48 or 60 months or a 1.90% lease rate for 36 months.

Pricing information source: unhaggle.com and carcostcanada.com. Calculations based on Ontario customers. Please note that while the information above is accurate at the time of publication, incentives are given at the discretion of individual dealers, and may be changed or discontinued at any time. Where noted, "dealer discounts" are negotiated with the customer on a case-by-case basis. Unhaggle Savings are actual discounts received by Unhaggle customers.

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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

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