Electric cars key to breaking oil addiction

The Star asks why the government is providing a special subsidy for vehicles that can be plugged in. The answer is that electric vehicles, along with better public transit and urban planning, are the key to breaking our addiction to dirty oil.

Existing hybrids use electric motors to improve the vehicle's fuel efficiency. This is important, but all of the energy is still coming from gasoline. Plug-in hybrids, and eventually fully electric vehicles, shift the energy source from oil to electricity. In the coming decades, oil will become increasingly dirty as conventional sources are used up and we switch to synthetic crude from the tar sands. Electricity, on the other hand, will become cleaner as we bring wind, solar and geothermal power online, as well as low-impact hydro and biomass.

Electric cars can also ease the integration of renewable power into Ontario's grid because their battery packs can store power from intermittent renewables.

This is the kind of transformation of our energy system we will need if we are to prevent dangerous climate change. The government has a role in supporting the introduction of these new technologies in the marketplace.

Keith Stewart, Director, Climate Change, WWF-Canada, Toronto

I am writing to clarify the McGuinty government's plan to have one in 20 passenger vehicles be electric by 2020. Ontarians are already able to receive up to $2,000 in tax rebates when they purchase hybrid vehicles. To strengthen our economy, now is the time to target the next wave of green vehicles.

To help consumers make the switch and support the automotive industry, we will be offering rebates of $4,000 to $10,000 for plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars.

We are not choosing one company over another; we're implementing this plan to support electric cars, regardless of who makes them. This plan will help put Ontarians into cleaner, more efficient vehicles, expand the market for manufacturers and create jobs.

We want all automotive manufacturers to embrace this strategy to help Ontario become a centre of production for innovative, world-leading automotive technology.

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