The article explains that the federal government is attempting to spur the purchase of electric vehicles by offering incentive packages. Because the text used for this lesson is a small part of a long article about the recent federal budget, we are reproducing it here rather than linking to it. It ran as follows:

The government is looking to stoke the adoption of zero-emission vehicles – but not only for consumers.

To help businesses buy such vehicles, the budget proposed making them eligible for a full tax write-off in the year they’re put in use. Applicable vehicles would include electric-battery, plug-in hybrid or hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles. Capital costs for eligible passenger vehicles would be deductible up to a limit of $55,000 plus sales tax.

On the consumer side, the budget included a new federal incentive of up to $5,000 for purchases of electric-battery or hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of less than $45,000. Ontario’s now-defunct incentive was criticized because, in its first iteration, it could be used for purchases of six-figure vehicles.

Canadian sales of zero-emission vehicles are on the rise but remain a small portion of the overall market.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Environmental studies, world issues, business studies, man in society

Key Questions to Explore:

  • How does an increase in the use of electric cars help the human race?
  • What incentives are there to purchase these vehicles?

New Terminology:


Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Hybrid and electric cars are now commonplace and are increasing in profile with each year’s offerings of new vehicles. Nevertheless, these vehicles still remain a small portion of the overall market. The potential for driverless vehicles is garnering much attention and, in many ways, diverting discussion away from the use of electric cars and trucks. Those who have purchased these hybrid or totally electric vehicles speak highly of their value and performance but the general public so far has failed to make them a popular choice. As battery life and the availability of charging stations increase, however, more attention will be paid to these vehicles as people attempt to move away from fossil fuels and the resultant greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government’s efforts to spur the purchase of these vehicles by offering incentives is a positive move designed to increase market share and reduce carbon emissions. Most governments, with the exception of the current Ontario provincial government that recently cancelled the Ontario incentive plan, view hybrid and electric car incentives as a means of supporting our global GHG commitments.

This lesson will have the students examine what inhibitors are preventing the rapid growth in the use of electric and hybrid vehicles and whether or not they personally would be inclined to purchase such a vehicle.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Begin the lesson by asking if any of the students’ families own or considered buying an electric or hybrid vehicle.
  • Ask them to explain the reasons why they considered this vehicle.
  • If any of the students’ families have such a vehicle, ask them to give some reactions to their experiences with it.
  • Explain to the students that the federal government is offering incentives to have both individuals and companies buy zero-emission vehicles.
  • Break the students into groups of five or six and hand out the article.
  • Allow them time to read it and then ask them to answer the following questions:
    1. Why do think the government is offering such a program?
    2. Would you buy such a vehicle? Why or why not?
    3. What are the problems with owning such a vehicle?
    4. If these problems were overcome would that encourage you to purchase one of these vehicles?

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Have the groups report their answers and respond to any questions or comments from their classmates.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  • Identify the incentive plan that government is offering;
  • Explain why the government is offering these incentives;
  • Outline what impediments exist to the popular growth of electric and hybrid vehicles;
  • Describe some of the benefits to owning such a vehicle.

Confirming Activity:

  • Assign the following as a homework task.

Compare the cost of purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle relative to a standard gas engine vehicle. Once you have done this, estimate the fuel savings that the electric or hybrid vehicle would generate if you traveled 20,000 km in a year. How long would it take for the electric or hybrid vehicle to pay for itself?