Auto dealers, manufacturers want Manitoba’s new electric vehicle subsidy to apply at point of sale

Auto dealers and manufacturers want Manitoba to change its new electric vehicle incentive program so consumers can receive a $4,000 break when they buy a car instead of waiting for a rebate cheque in the mail.

The Manitoba Motor Dealers Association, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association and the Global Automakers of Canada have written the NDP government to request a change the EV-incentive program that started up on Tuesday.

That program allows Manitoba residents who purchase a new electric vehicle within the province to receive a $4,000 rebate cheque from Manitoba Public Insurance. Manitobans who buy used EVs can receive a $2,500 rebate.

Geoff Sine, the president and CEO of the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association, said auto dealers and manufacturers are “very pleased” to see Manitoba offer the rebates.

That said, they would prefer consumers had the option of receiving their rebates at the point of sale, which is where the federal $5,000 EV rebate is applied.

“Our only concern is that the consumer does not have the option to apply the incentive at the point of sale,” Sine said via email, explaining that is where dealers calculate financing charges.

While the federal incentive program allows EV financing to be calculated with $5,000 off the after-tax price of a new car — allowing for lower regular payments — the provincial program does not, he noted.

“With approximately 80 per cent of vehicles financed, this makes consumers’ payments higher. In some cases, applying the incentive at the point of sale also qualifies consumers for financing the vehicle,” Sine said.

Sine said dealers and manufacturers hope the province will permit car buyers to choose between getting their EV rebate cheque in the mail or at the point of purchase.

The NDP government said it will not change the program, which began accepting applications on Tuesday.

“We are proud of our EV rebate and the savings it will bring Manitobans who want to make the switch to an electric vehicle,” said Ryan Stelter, a spokesperson for Manitoba Finance Minister Adrien Sala. 

“The rebate as it stands provides protection to the consumer to ensure savings are passed directly to them when they register their vehicle at MPI.”

The province chose to go the rebate route so Manitoba Public Insurance can determine 

Silvester Komlodi, Manitoba’s deputy finance minister, said the province chose to offer the rebates through Manitoba Public Insurance because that allows the $4,000 cheques to flow to people who purchased electric vehicles prior to the start of the program.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew promised retroactive credits last year, during the provincial election campaign. They are open to people who purchased EVs in Manitoba since Aug. 1, 2023.

Komlodi also said offering the credits through Manitoba Public Insurance also allows the province to ensure only one EV rebate cheque will flow to an individual Manitoban.

“Having it go through MPI gives us some clear sense of that,” Komlodi said in an interview. “We wanted to make sure that there’s really good transparency.”