More than half of Quebecers are interested in buying an electric vehicle, but not without subsidies

Interest in electric or hybrid vehicles continues to grow in Quebec.

According to a survey conducted by autoHEBDO.net, 55 per cent of respondents are open to the idea of buying an environmentally friendly vehicle, but there's a big step between the intention to buy and actually doing so.

First, the majority of potential buyers are motivated by government incentives, in 80 per cent of cases.

That number means that less than a quarter of the population would be willing to buy a green vehicle at full price.

Among those who are motivated to buy an electric vehicle because of government incentives, 44 per cent say the minimum subsidy should be at least $10,000, and 19 per cent say the amount should be between $4,000 and $6,000.

INCENTIVES AND REBATES

Often criticized for its practices, Uber is following the trend and going green. Last week, it launched the Uber Vert service in Montreal and Quebec City.

Its intention is to green its fleet of cars to reach zero emissions in Europe, the United States and Canada by 2030, then in the rest of the world in 2040.

The global ride-sharing giant wants to encourage drivers to switch from gasoline to electric or hybrid vehicles and promises to help them make the transition with a financial boost.

Uber has concluded an agreement with car manufacturers to offer a discount to its drivers when they buy a green vehicle.

However, do we necessarily need rebates or subsidies to encourage people to adopt electric cars?

For Pierre Barrieau, a lecturer in urban planning and transportation planning at the Universite de Montreal and UQAM, the answer is yes.

At least for the moment.

"To begin this transition, it must be massively subsidized," he says.

Barrieau explained that even if for the moment the electric car remains more expensive, each time the state subsidizes it, it subsidizes in fact an industry, which aims in the medium term to be competitive with gasoline cars.

"Without subsidies, we would not be able to achieve technologies that are really desirable," he says. "It would cost so much in research and development that no company could absorb those costs."

So for the electric car to become the model of choice, he said the auto industry needs to be stimulated to continue innovating in the green car.

As Tesla has done, he cited as an example.

Tesla has been able, by raising money on the stock market and through various funds, to demonstrate the economic viability of the electric car in the marketplace.

Yet Tesla is still operating at a loss, he said.

This means that even for high-end vehicles with an enviable reputation, profitability is a long way off.

MARKET LEADERS

Barrieau also explained that historically in Canada, the three provinces that have always stood out in the green car market are Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.

Since the arrival of Doug Ford's government, which massively cut subsidies for green cars, demand for these vehicles has dropped in Ontario, said Barrieau.

Certainly, people are becoming more educated about these vehicles, as evidenced by the increase in searches that have gone up by 29 per cent.  

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2021.

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