B.C. is adding $10 million to a rebate program for electric vehicles, due to strong demand.

The Clean Energy Vehicle Program was introduced in 2011 to accelerate the adoption of electric cars. It appears to be working.

Buyers of battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles can get $5,000 back from the government and buyers of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles can get $6,000. Strong demand for these cars has depleted the initial $27 million budgeted for rebates, so the government has added an extra $10 million to the pot.

“We are making it easier for everyone in our province to choose a clean-energy vehicle as their next purchase,” Michelle Mungall, minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, said in a news release. “These additional funds will make transportation more affordable today, while supporting our long-term work to build a cleaner future.”

B.C. drivers choose electric vehicles more often than in other provinces, the latest statistics show. Electric cars made up 3.7 per cent of all vehicles sold in the province in June this year and more than 1,400 rebates were paid out by the government between April and June.

There are more than 10,000 zero-emission vehicles on the road in B.C., more than 4,700 of which qualified for clean energy vehicle program rebates as of September 2017, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum said in a statement in response to National Observer's questions. Most of those are driven in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island, however people in the Interior, the Kootenays and the Prince George area also drive electric cars, the ministry said.

In addition to those 10,000 zero-emission vehicles, there are 30,000 hybrid cars insured in the province, of a total of nearly three million cars, the ministry said.

While B.C. shows the highest per capita rates of electric vehicle use, Ontario and Quebec have more by sheer numbers. In B.C. there were 3,893 zero emission vehicles sold in the first half of 2018, while in Ontario there were 9,707 sold and in Quebec there were 7,273 sold. In the rest of the country only 544 zero emission vehicles were sold in the same time period, the ministry said.

Typically, drivers of electric cars save about $2,400 a year on fuel and maintenance costs.

B.C. drivers choose electric vehicles more often than in other provinces, according to the Ministry of Energy. #cleanenergy #ElectricVehicles #bcpoli

Later this fall, the B.C. government will announce a new clean-growth strategy, an economic plan focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The government’s target is to reduce carbon emissions by 40 per cent from 2007 levels by 2030, and by 60 per cent by 2040.

The clean growth strategy is expected to include a new incentive program to support electric vehicles and could also include ideas like banning the sale of gas and diesel cars by 2040, using more electric buses or even ferries, and building more charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure.

People buying electric cars don’t need to apply for the rebate, because it is given by the dealership when the car is purchased. Only new cars are eligible.

Tracy Sherlock writes about B.C. politics for National Observer. Send your tips and ideas to [email protected]. And never miss a story: use the promo code SHERLOCK today when you buy an annual subscription, and get a 20% discount.