Quebec passes Canada's first zero-emission vehicle rule, to start in 2018 Page 2


Province of Quebec in Canada

Province of Quebec in Canada

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While its base residential rate starts at a low 5.71 cents per kilowatt-hour, plug-in electric vehicle owners would be expected to reach the second pricing tier, at 8.68 cents/kWh.

As low as these prices may seem to some U.S. readers, they're still higher than the price Hydro-Quebec receives for its electricity exports (5.68 cents/kWh in 2015).

And its revenue from such exports is itself expected to decline over time, as more renewable energy supply comes online at some of the utilities currently buying its power.

Quebec's ZEV Act by the numbers

Although plug-in electric vehicle advocates and enthusiasts are delighted at Quebec's 3.5-percent ZEV mandate for the 2018 model year, there are some nuances to the target.

As in California and the other Section 177 states, the 3.5-percent requirement is not measured based on numbers of vehicles sold (ZEV sales divided by total sales) but is based on earned credits (ZEV credits / total sales).

And some electric vehicles can earn more than one credit.

Bourgeois Chevrolet, Rawdon, Quebec, Canada [photo: RoulezElectrique.com]

Bourgeois Chevrolet, Rawdon, Quebec, Canada [photo: RoulezElectrique.com]

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The government's June 2016 cost-benefit analysis (note: in French), again patterned on the California regulations, proposes offering more credits as the rated range of battery-electric or fuel-cell vehicles increases, topping out at 4 credits for vehicles with a range of 563 km (350 miles) or higher.

Plug-in electric vehicles would receive between 0.3 and 1.1 credit, depending on their electric range.

This means that automakers could achieve ZEV credits equivalent to 3.5 percent of sales despite selling fewer than 3.5 percent of their cars with plugs.

As currently written, the ZEV Act also allows automakers to collect credits for sales of applicable vehicles already made in 2014 through 2017.

Those sales can be applied against their 2018 totals, greatly easing the transition for automakers as the Act takes effect.

While this may frustrate plug-in electric vehicle advocates, it is worth bearing in mind that these take effect relatively quickly despite potentially wide-reaching effects on the vehicle mix available in the province.

Effect of electric-car purchase incentives on Tesla Model S sales in B.C. vs Ontario and Quebec

Effect of electric-car purchase incentives on Tesla Model S sales in B.C. vs Ontario and Quebec

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Drawing from the proverbial wisdom of "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush", an initially modest but widely supported ZEV mandate could ultimately prove more valuable than more stringent, fractious regulations whose support is divided along partisan lines.

No party stays in power forever, after all.

Finally, recognizing that not all Quebecers have the disposable income to purchase new vehicles, automakers will also receive credit for used plug-in electric vehicles that are imported from the United States and resold in Quebec.

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