aerial view of Sea to Sky highway in British Columbia with Ocean in view
Prospective zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) buyers in British Columbia are set to get a bit of extra help with vehicle affordability, thanks to a boost in the size of the province’s ZEV passenger vehicle rebates — but the amount of the payout will depend on a buyer’s income.

British Columbia is boosting the size of its zero-emission passenger vehicle rebate, adding a second category for larger vehicles and, in a first for Canada, scaling rebate eligibility to household income

Prospective zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) buyers in British Columbia are set to get a bit of extra help with vehicle affordability, thanks to a boost in the size of the province’s ZEV passenger vehicle rebates — but the amount of the payout will depend on a buyer’s income.

Rebates for passenger ZEVs costing $55,000 or less in B.C. are being increased to a maximum of $4,000. But to be eligible for that rebate, an individual purchaser’s income must be below $80,000 or they must have a combined total household income of no more than $125,000.

The move — a first for Canada — aligns B.C. with many American states and a federal proposal in the Inflation Reduction Act now making its way through the U.S. Congress, which also employ a tiered rebate (or tax credit) system dependent on income.

“More and more people in British Columbia want to get an electric vehicle to save money on gas and reduce their carbon footprint,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, in a press release. “We’re improving our rebate program to make EVs more affordable and accessible for more families.”

British Columbia is currently Canada’s leading province in overall percentage of ZEV adoption (including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) at 13 per cent as of 2022. Over 54,000 provincial rebates have been issued since 2017.

Rebate program details

Under B.C.’s new program, full battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell passenger vehicles bought or leased are eligible for a maximum of $4,000, up from $3,000 under its previous program. Buyers of lower-range plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are eligible for a rebate of up to $2,000 (a jump from the previous $1,500).

The income-tiered rebate system operates at three levels.

As noted, to be eligible to receive the full amount, a buyer’s individual income must be below $80,000 or they must have a combined total household income of no more than $125,000.

Individuals with incomes between $80,001 and $100,000 (or household combined between $125,001 and 165,000) will be eligible for $500 to $2,000 depending on the level of income and type of vehicle selected.

Finally, individuals making over $100,000 or households with a combined income of over 165,000 will not be eligible for any rebates.

“Based on 2020 income tax returns, more than 90% of British Columbians are eligible for the provincial electric vehicle rebate,” says the government’s announcement.

In addition to offering greater financial assistance to lower income individuals and families to access EVs, B.C. is also expanding the types of passenger vehicles eligible for the rebates.

“The price cap to determine eligibility for vehicle rebates remains at a maximum of $55,000 for compact and full-size cars,” reads the announcement. “However, to support families and businesses requiring larger EVs, a second category has been added. For larger EVs that will be coming to market, including minivans, sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks, the cap has been set at a maximum retail price of $70,000.”

Rebates for used vehicles remain unchanged, but earlier this year the B.C. government made used EVs exempt from provincial sales tax.

B.C. is also one of only two Canadian provinces to offer a commercial, heavy-duty or specialty-use ZEV rebate, with purchasers of eligible vehicles receiving up to $100,000.

Thoughtful approach

“British Columbia has reached a leadership position in zero-emission vehicle sales within North America because of the thoughtful approach by government and partner agencies, which has included rebates that make ownership as affordable as possible,” said Blair Qualey, president and CEO, New Car Dealers Association of B.C., in a press release.

“The latest changes go a step further and ensure those at the lower end of the income spectrum have a greater ability to purchase a clean-energy vehicle — and that is good news for the sector, for government and, most importantly, for the environment.”

1 comment
  1. This sounds great unless you are one of the people waiting a year or more for their EV to finally arrive. If the EV rebate program is to promote the purchase of EV’s why make it a tiered program? Are we not all buying EV’s the same? There should be a grandfather clause in this amendment that allows the same old program for those waiting for production cars.

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