The Ontario government increased public support for electric vehicles this week, with its announcement of a rebate on EV charging stations for consumers or businesses of up to $1,000.
Starting Jan. 1, 2013, the government will cover 50 per cent of the total purchase and installation cost of installing a 240-volt charging station at their home or workplace, up to a rebate limit of $1,000, whichever is lower. The program is aimed at homeowners and businesses who received a provincial electric vehicle rebate and have installed or are planning to install an electric vehicle charging station, or to help potential plug-in car buyers interested in low or zero local emissions vehicles, but reticent about the extra upfront costs involved.
These EVSEs (electric vehicle supply equipment) are highly recommended in Canada for battery electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus EV by auto makers and fellow BEV owners, but there is still no manufacturer or government requirement to buy a charging station along with a plug-in car. However, it does significantly reduce charge times, by 50 per cent or more, and therefore increases any plug-in's usability and electric-only run times.
Full details of the program and application forms will be available at the beginning of January at the provincial Ministry of Transportation website (mto.gov.on.ca). The province's Climate Change Action Plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2014, and to 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.
Ontario's electric vehicle incentive program provides a rebate between $5,000 to $8,500 for all plug-in consumer vehicles sold in the province, but previously didn't include any specific money earmarked for the installation of charging stations, as currently offered in British Columbia (up to $500) and Quebec (up to $1,000). This gives Ontario the highest total electric vehicle incentives in the country.
"Charging at night helps drivers take advantage of time-of-use pricing and uses surplus electricity that is low-emitting and locally made," said Cara Clairman, president of Plug 'n Drive Ontario, a non-profit EV advocacy group, in the program's announcement Dec. 3. "A home charging incentive removes part of the cost barrier and helps Ontario maximize the environmental and economic benefits of EVs."
Ironically, the Ontario government was criticized cutting a majority of funding to those same electric vehicle programs in a report released Dec. 4 by Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. A total of $164-million was promised for incentives for the purchase of EVs, and for the development of charging stations, but the provincial government has cut $101-million from the two programs, and is re-evaluating them because of the slower than anticipated take-up, and the "slowing economy and shrinking revenues," said the report.
Miller also criticized the government for its policies on other transportation-related environmental initiatives, including the budgetary delay to a new 31 kilometres in HOV lanes, the early cancellation of the Green Commercial Vehicle program – despite the program having achieved reductions that were 350 per cent higher than planned – and for not committing to a cap-and-trade carbon emissions reduction program.
New entry-level Jaguars planned
Now that Jaguar has previewed at least two upcoming sports cars to anchor its luxury performance image, a new entry-level sedan and crossover much more critical to the firm's financial health are reportedly planned to arrive in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Automobile magazine's European correspondent Georg Kacher reports that the models will arrive in both rear- and all-wheel-drive formats. The underpinnings will feature a modular platform that will be scaled down from the one used in the 2013 Range Rover, the magazine reported.
Mazda6 diesel coming in fall
Mazda Canada confirmed this week that the diesel version of its upcoming Mazda6 sedan will be coming in the fall of 2013, while the all-new gas version of the sedan will launch early next year.
The new-generation Mazda6 will launch early next year with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder gas engine, incorporating all of its latest SkyActiv fuel-saving technology, including a new capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system called i-ELOOP that uses some of the energy-saving tricks from hybrids and EVs.
The same 2.5-litre engine will also become available on the 2014 CX-5 compact crossover, which goes on sale in January, as an up-market option on GS or GT trims over the standard 2.0-litre. Using a six-speed automatic, this engine will offer 184 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque in both the up-level CX-5 and the Mazda6 mid-size sedan.
The revised 2013 CX-9 seven-seater SUV has been noticeably resculpted, especially its front end and wheels, to better blend in with its more modern and swoopier showroom mates. Its interior has also been updated, with a standard infotainment screen and updated Bluetooth and voice command functions, though the aging powertrain remains the same 273-hp, 3.7-litre V-6.
Volt, Corvette and 911 owners most satisfied
Owners of the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Corvette and Porsche 911 were the most satisfied in Consumer Reports' most recent owner satisfaction survey.
The Volt was a repeat winner, with 92 per cent of its owners willing to buy it again, the highest in the survey for the second year in a row.
The Corvette and Porsche 911 sports cars tied for the number two spot, with 91 per cent of owners willing to buy again, followed by the Canadian-made Dodge Challenger V-8 and Ford Mustang in the performance car group.
Audi did well in the luxury category, with its A7 at 90 per cent topping all challengers in this group, followed by the Lexus GS and Audi A6.
Advanced technology vehicles that saved lots of fuel did well in general, with the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Prius, the subcompact Prius C, and mid-size Nissan Leaf all finishing near the top of the overall charts, though just behind the Volt, Consumer Reports said.
The Nissan Versa received the lowest percentage of buyers who would buy again. Other low scorers included the V-6 versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, the Nissan Armada, Suzuki SX4 and Mitsubishi Outlander.