NS EV rebate
Iain Rankin, Premier of Nova Scotia, speaking at the announcement today

Editor’s update March 13, 2021: Details of the Nova Scotia EV rebate program can be found here.

A big announcement from a small province is catching national attention: Nova Scotia just became the fourth province in Canada to offer a provincial EV rebate, but it’s done with an eye to making adoption financially accessible to everyone

In a welcome move today, Nova Scotia joined the ranks of provinces offering incentives for electric vehicle purchases. Premier Iain Rankin announced the incentives would come from a $19-million dollar fund and the purchase incentives would extend from passenger vehicles to electric bicycles and used vehicle purchases. In total, $9.5 million dollars from the fund will be used to finance the rebate program. 

The largest incentive of $3,000 goes to new vehicle purchases, used vehicles follow close behind at $2,000 and e-bike buyers will see $500 off their bill. For new vehicles, Nova Scotia’s provincial rebate will be applied in addition to the existing federal $5,000 rebate. The incentive for new and used vehicles only applies to vehicles valued up to $55,000.

“Bold action on climate change is a priority. We know it’s possible to have a cleaner economy that creates jobs, supports a healthy environment and benefits all Nova Scotians,” said Rankin, who was just sworn yesterday, during the press conference announcing the rebate.

“People that have lower incomes; if they get into a lower cost electric vehicle they can start reaping the benefits of really low operating costs”

Jérémie Bernardin, VP of Sales, All EV Canada

Making the green wave accessible

What makes Nova Scotia’s rebate program even more significant is the inclusion of used EVs — an often underappreciated piece of the adoption puzzle — which for many Canadians is the only way they will be able to afford to transition.

“I really appreciate the approach of bringing in equity and inclusivity into the picture,” says Jérémie Bernardin, vice-president of sales at All EV Canada Inc., a local EV education and sales enterprise, where the announcement was made. “When we are looking at the greener transition and wanting people to take part in it, having that inclusivity and having people of various incomes take part in the shift is so important. Including the used vehicle incentive was very progressive.”

Just two other provinces offer vehicle incentives on top of the federal rebate: British Columbia and Quebec at $3,000, $8,000, respectively — Ontario, the third province to offer a rebate — discontinued their program in 2018. Yukon and Northwest Territories also both offer their own rebates at $5,000 each. Nova Scotia is just the second province to offer a dedicated rebate for used EVs. Quebec has run its used EV rebate since April 2019, offering $4,000 towards a used EV purchase. In Ontario, Plug’n Drive, through a private benefactor, offers $1,000 to people buying a used EV.

“People that have lower incomes; if they get into a lower cost electric vehicle they can start reaping the benefits of really low operating costs, savings on maintenance and savings on transportation costs,” says Bernardin. “It should be those who have less money who can take advantage of that.”

Recipe for building out adoption

Nova Scotia by the numbers is not an EV adoption leader in Canada with just 500 EVs registered. But it has a robust infrastructure network — over 100 public charging stations — ready to support a buying surge and has invested heavily in the pillars that experts have identified as leading to adoption success. Today’s announcement is one step in supporting that growth.

“[The premier] wants to get an all-hands-on-deck approach of meaningful policies and programs immediately and it’s such a welcome shift,” says Bernardin. “The Government of Nova Scotia has also been funding an electric vehicle education campaign called Next Ride for the past two years. Infrastructure is one step, education is the subsequent step and now incentives is to really move the needle. At that point the free market comes in and I think we are going to see the adoption of a lot more electric vehicles.”

The premier didn’t indicate if any financing will be allocated to continue to build out Nova Scotia’s infrastructure, but he did say the public can expect to hear the details of a new energy standard aiming to have 80 per cent of the province’s energy come from renewable sources by 2030. That plan will be released next month. In the long term, Nova Scotia is trying to become the first province to achieve net-zero, and transitioning mobility will play a large part in that.

“These are really bold statements,” says Bernardin. “Initiatives like what was announced today will make a huge shift and help increase those numbers dramatically.”

More news on Canadian incentives, rebates and funding