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The end of electric vehicle subsidies

Published on 

That’s it. After 12 years of subsidizing the purchase of electric vehicles, the Quebec government has announced that the Roulez vert program will be phased out. The program’s goal was to propel the electric vehicle market, and it worked! In 2012, there were 1,200 electric vehicles on our roads. By 2023, there were over 250,000 light electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in use in Quebec. That's over 200 times more!

Is this the right time to end the subsidies? What will be the impact?

Let’s break it down.

In a nutshell

  • The Roulez vert program: Since 2012, the program has been providing financial assistance to individuals on the purchase of a new or used electric vehicle, or a home charging station. The government has just announced a gradual reduction on the amount of the subsidies, and a 2027 end date. Only the subsidies for the purchase and installation of home charging stations will remain.

  • The cost: The program has been extremely popular, which resulted in significant government costs of some $400 million, well beyond the initial budget of $244 million. The government has indicated that the funds allocated to the Roulez Vert program would be transferred to other programs to address climate change. We currently have very few details about how these funds will be redirected.

Our take

The Roulez vert program wasn’t meant to last forever. It did its job in that it helped make electric cars more mainstream. The rebates encouraged people to take the leap and give electric vehicles a try.

But with about 250,000 electric vehicles on our roads, we’re still pretty far from the government’s goal. The risk of the phase out of the Roulez vert program is that it may disincentivize those who were considering going electric with their next vehicle. A new Léger survey reveals that 64% of respondents have no intention of buying an electric car in the next 5 years.

But the basis of the government’s phase out of the Roulez Vert program is that there are more efficient ways to reduce emissions in the transportation sector - and on this we agree. For example, the government could have added a tax onto the purchase of large vehicles (to dissuade people from opting for oversized vehicles) and use that money to subsidize the purchase of small electric vehicles and/or electrically-assisted bikes. It’s called a fee-rebate system, and it's an effective ecofiscal tool that we’ve been recommending to the government for many years now. Another good example is improved public transit systems. That’s where we want the government to reallocate the money saved from the Roulez vert program, and we're pushing to make it happen. Imagine if we could help more people transition away from solo driving by giving them a good public transit experience!

Take action

To encourage Quebecers to opt for more sustainable modes of transportation, it's essential that there are alternatives to solo driving that are efficient, reliable and accessible. To do this, we must better fund public transit systems, not only in Quebec, but across Canada. That's what we're asking the federal government to do.

Accelerating public transit across the country