Jim Flaherty, the Conservative government's Finance Minister, tabled his latest budget yesterday, March 19. Beyond measures to restore fiscal balance in Canada and to reduce taxes for working families, a series of incentives were announced that could have a significant influence on the kind of vehicles Canadians will buy from now on. Indeed, the Harper administration has come up with two specific solutions: a tax on high-polluting, large-displacement vehicles and rebates on fuel-efficient vehicles through the ecoAuto program.
A tax on large-displacement vehicles Details about how this tax will be implemented are not yet known. However, we do know that it could make the government $220 million richer over the next two years. Automakers will first have to assume the costs, which could spring from a base $1,000 amount to no less than $4,000 in the case of fuel-inefficient V8-powered vehicles such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer, Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Suburban, Hummer H2/H3 and Toyota Sequoia. Unfortunately, automakers will most likely react by increasing the base price of said models, therefore making consumers pay even more for this green tax. The bottom line is: if you don't want to shell out extra cash, choose a smaller, less thirsty vehicle.
Rebates on fuel-efficient vehicles In order to encourage Canadians to buy smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles and to allow them to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the federal government launched the ecoAuto program, an integral part of Transport Canada's ecoTransport strategy. What this means is that people who purchase or lease a highly fuel-efficient vehicle after March 20, 2007, will get a rebate of up to $2,000. This incentive will cost the government $160 million over the next two years. Let's remind you that the Quebec government has recently increased from $1,000 to $2,000 the maximum PST amount that can be refunded on any sale or long-term lease of a new hybrid vehicle between February 20, 2007, and January 1, 2009. In some cases, the total rebate can reach $4,000. Now that's interesting!
List of eligible vehicles Obviously, the government will revise the list every time an automaker will launch a new hybrid or highly fuel-efficient vehicle, or when they improve the fuel economy of their current vehicles to meet the required standards. For the moment, the following vehicles are eligible:
Honda Civic Hybrid
Ford Escape Hybrid with CVT
Ford Escape HEV with CVT
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Nissan Altima Hybrid with CVT
Ford Escape HEV 4WD with CVT
MINI Cooper with 6-speed manual transmission
Toyota Corolla with 5-speed manual transmission
Saturn Aura Green Line with 4-speed automatic transmission
Jeep Compass with 5-speed transmission or CVT
Jeep Patriot with 5-speed manual transmission or CVT
Lexus RX 400h with CVT
Toyota Highlander Hybrid with CVT
$1,000 rebate (Flex-fuel vehicles)
Chevrolet Impala FFV with 3.5L engine and 4-speed automatic transmission
Chevrolet Monte Carlo with 3.5L engine and 4-speed automatic transmission
Chrysler Sebring FFV with 2.7L engine and 4-speed automatic transmission (with or without manual mode)
Horsepower can be intoxicating, enticing, and intimidating all at once. The desire to go ever faster is engrained in the human psyche; why else would we produce the machines we do, rejoice at racetracks, and speed across salt flats as fast as we possibly can? Speed demons are just that: demons. They need to be satiated, and well contained or else...