Deals on Wheels: Is B.C.’s New E-Bike Rebate Too Good to be True?
On May 25, 2023, the Government of B.C. announced a new incentive program to encourage British Columbians to adopt an increasingly popular sustainable transportation option: Electric Bicycles (e-bikes). The new BC Electric Bike Rebate Program launched on June 1, 2023, to unprecedented demand from those looking to get their hands on a new green ride—over 12,000 applications were submitted in the first 24 hours. Many who applied, however, were surprised to hit a few unexpected roadblocks: income qualifications, a lengthy waitlist, a high minimum price point for eligible models, limited participating retailers and other unexpected restrictions.
If you’ve been considering purchasing an e-bike for yourself or your business, here are some important details you’ll need to understand before applying to the program.
Earning too much will net you very little
The first thing you should know about the program is that the rebate amounts are tied to your net income, which is verified with your Notice of Assessment from the CRA. The rebate tiers are:
- $1,400 for those earning less than $38,950
- $1,000 for those earning $38,951 to $51,130
- $350 for those earning $51,131 and over
Although $350 is still a welcome discount, for those earning above that final threshold it may not be enough to justify the time and effort needed to go through the program’s application process.
Be prepared to wait (a very long time)
By June 2, only one day after the program was launched, only 4,000 people received a rebate and the application waitlist already had over 8,000 people on it. This isn’t good news for anyone who wasn’t able to apply at the program’s launch, as the B.C. Government is only investing an initial amount of $6-million into the program, which covers rebates for a maximum of 9,000 people.
If you haven’t applied to the program yet, you’ll likely have to wait an indefinite amount of time before more funding is made available to those on the lengthy waitlist.
Only certain e-bikes from only certain stores
If the rebate amounts and waitlist don’t deter you, you’ll need to visit one of a limited number of participating retailers for your e-bike purchase to be eligible for the program. For those who prefer to shop at big box stores like Costco, Best Buy, Canadian Tire or Amazon, you’ll be out of luck.
Even if one of these retailers works well for you, you’ll need to make sure the particular e-bike you purchase meets a number of qualifications. In addition to being subject to the program’s specific definition of an electric bike, eligible e-bikes:
- Must be purchased new, not used;
- Must have been purchase after June 1, 2023;
- Have a minimum price point of $2,000;
- Must be purchased by the person who applied for the rebate;
- Must be kept in possession for a minimum of two years by rebate recipients; and,
- Cannot be returned for a refund (all eligible e-bike purchases are considered final under the program requirements)
You’ll need to keep these conditions in mind when considering applying to the program, as their restrictive nature means that eligible e-bike models will likely be low in stock across the province due to the high demand from rebate recipients.
Businesses need not apply
If you’ve been thinking about purchasing an e-bike to use for your business, then this is the wrong rebate to apply for. The B.C. e-bike program only accepts applications and Notice of Assessments from individuals—corporations, partnerships or any other business types are ineligible.
Business owners are directed to the B.C. Government’s Specialty Use Vehicle Program (SUVI Program) for rebates on vehicles like electric cargo bikes. For more information on the SUVI Program and other Government incentives, read our article on B.C.’s clean tax incentives that can save your business money.
The new e-bike program is an exciting and encouraging step towards making sustainable transportation more accessible to British Columbians however, the lengthy list of qualifications and restrictions around it may keep most of us pedaling unassisted for the foreseeable future. For more information on other green rebates, incentives and credits available to you and your business, talk to your DMCL advisor—they’ll be happy to explore all of the ‘go-green’ options available to you.