Incentives could help more Manitobans make the switch to electric vehicles: experts

Incentives from the provincial and federal governments could help Manitoba catch up to other jurisdictions when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs), experts say.

In the provincial budget released last month, the Manitoba NDP government promised rebates for purchasing new and used electric and hybrid vehicles. Manitobans could receive up to $4,000 for purchasing a new electric vehicle and up to $2,500 for purchasing a used EV.

The rebate would apply to EVs that are under $70,000, less than four years old, and purchased between Aug. 1, 2023 and March 31, 2026.

“This is going to be a great way to make electric vehicles accessible and affordable for Manitobans and allow them to contribute to our clean environment,” Manitoba Environment and Climate Change Minister Tracy Schmidt told Global News Wednesday.

James Hart, with the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association, says he believes it will prompt more Manitobans to make the step to electric vehicles.

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Hart has been driving fully-electric vehicles since 2019, and said the major selling point for him was when the federal government introduced its incentive that year, which provided up to $5,000 at the point of sale.

“It’s allowing more people to get into these vehicles,” Hart said. “And a lot more of these vehicles are becoming lower-priced. So that $9,000 off a $50,000 vehicle makes it a lot more affordable.”

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Hart said he would like to see the provincial rebate expanded further, and include vehicles than are more than four years old.

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“A four-year-old vehicle is still out of reach for a lot of people, so I’d love it to include a broader range of vehicles than that,” he said.

“And I’d prefer an incentive right at the dealership. Instead of waiting for a rebate, get it right off the price of a vehicle so you don’t have to finance that as well.”

Marc Beghin is the founder of EasyEV, a company that specializes in residential, commercial, and municipal EV charger installations around the province. He welcomes the provincial rebate as well, and says it will help Manitoba catch up to other provinces.

“We are one of the last jurisdictions to adopt such measures to help bridge the gap and help consumers with affordability,” Beghin said. “It’s kind of a good time, because the prices of (electric) vehicles are coming down now and matched with the incentive, there’s no better time to get into an electric vehicle right now.”

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Numbers from Manitoba Public Insurance show that few Manitobans have made that switch. According to MPI, 1,393,124 vehicles were registered in Manitoba as of April 1, 2024. Of that, 3,416 are electric and 17,483 are hybrid.

Hart says more charging infrastructure is also needed in the province.

“Mainly the rural community — it’s a lot harder once you start getting off Highway 1,” Hart said.

“Highway 3 is starting to put charges in place there. But going up north, we definitely need chargers going up there. Getting up to Thompson is quite the headache now.”

A recent survey conducted by AutoTrader.ca showed that while there is an appetite for buying electric vehicles in Canada, it has been declining over the past three years. According to the poll, in 2024 46 per cent of Canadians are interested in purchasing an EV as their next vehicle. That number dropped from 56 per cent in 2023 and 68 per cent in 2022.

Baris Akyurk, the vice-president of marketing intelligence at AutoTrader, says the cost of living likely plays a role in those declining numbers in recent years. He also says it’s something incentives could help with.

“Consumers are motivated by incentives. When we asked that question, 94 per cent said, ‘Yep, we’d like to see some incentives’,” Akyurek said.

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“On a per capita basis, BC and Quebec had the highest EV adoption, and they had the highest incentive level.”

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