Canada expands eligibility for ZEV sales incentives, but max rebate remains $5,000

Some pricier cars and bigger zero-emissions pickups and SUVs — retailing for as much as $70,000 — will soon be eligible for a rebate under Canada’s expanded federal incentive program for zero-emissions vehicles.

The new criteria outlined Friday will offer an unchanged maximum incentive of $5,000 for zero-emission cars whose base model price is less than $55,000. Higher cost variants up to $65,000 will also be covered by the iZEV program. That compares to base models and costlier variants retailing for, respectively, less than $45,000 and $55,000, under the previous program.

Larger vehicles, such as SUVs, minivans and pickups, with base prices below $60,000 and variants priced up to $70,000 with options will also qualify. Previously, base model prices were set at $55,000 to qualify and vehicles were required to have seven or more seats.

The revised program also eliminates minimum seating for larger vehicles, which will allow more pickups and SUVs to qualify. The changes go into effect April 25.

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra said Friday that broadening the iZEV program will give Canadians more flexibility when choosing a vehicle with zero emissions.

The iZEV program was introduced in 2019 and has so far helped facilitate the purchase or lease of 141,000 new EVs. But auto industry groups have criticized the government’s eligibility criteria under the program, saying the low pricing thresholds prevent EV uptake because popular, larger vehicles do not qualify.

Advocates say the changes will help the iZEV program support the SUV and pickup markets, which combined account for more than 80 percent of Canadian light-vehicle sales, but “falls short.”

“Simply increasing the limits to make a few more vehicles eligible for the program without increasing the amount of the incentive doesn’t address the affordability issue,” Canadian Automobile Dealers Association CEO Tim Reuss said.

CADA, along with the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, which represents the Detroit 3 automakers in Canada, and Global Automakers of Canada, which represents overseas automakers in Canada, have recently advocated for a $15,000 ZEV sales incentive.

In addition to increasing the eligibility criteria for ZEVs, Transport Canada also adjusted how the iZEV program supports plug-in hybrids, swapping electric range for battery capacity.

Ottawa is now classifying a PHEV as “longer-range” if it has an electric range greater than 50 kilometers. Such PHEVs are eligible for the full $5,000 EV incentive, while PHEVs with shorter ranges receive $2,500.

The CVMA issued a statement on Twitter, saying the new qualifications aren’t enough.

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