Last week, Ontario announced new plans to offer rebates on the purchase of electric cars purchased after July 1st 2010. The long term aim of the Ontario government is to have 1 in 20 cars by 2020 electric, as part of a move to encourage greener transport policies. The law would allow rebates of “$4,000 and $10,00” for hybrid and plug in electric cars – making the vehicle prices closer to normal car prices of around $30,000.
The move is the latest by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who continues to lead his state on a remarkable path towards a more sustainable state, making Ontario a leader among states and provinces in North America. The move fits into a broader pattern of environmental legislation with an economic underpinning. One of Ontario’s most far-reaching laws included the “right to connect”, legislation that means any renewable energy supplier has to be hooked up to the main grid, in a push to encourage decentralised renewable energy growth in the state. Ontario does not see this simply as an environmental objective, with state legislators, aiming to push their province to the forefront of renewable technology in research and supply as the world slowly turns towards low carbon future. The latest push is not without some direct self-interest, as Ontario owns 3.9% of General motors, with it’s Chevy Volt due to come onto the market in 2010.
In keeping with their broader attempt to create a more holistic sustainable approach, the law also allows for electric cars to use High occupancy vehicle lanes even if only one person is driving in them. The report behind the new law also suggested an expansion of electric car provisions across the state. How effective the scheme will be naturally depends on Canada’s wider economic fortunes; nevertheless its the cumulative impact of Onatario’s legislation that makes the province a leader in environmental legislation.
Regardless of how quick the uptake is, the move is hardly without a rational basis, with Toyota set to prepare for mass production of the Prius in 2012, Honda and Nissan also in production of the electric car, it may not be unreasonable to suggest a tipping point in the electric car market. If the opportunity of a new market was not enough perhaps the more sinister implications of oil-shocks, may motivate those buying at the pump to save money by investing in ever more fuel-efficient vehicles. In either case, Ontario’s early provisions of plug-in stations will once again have put its citizens in a strong position to capitalise on changing markets through incremental legislation towards a sustainable state.