Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tories Green Hot Air Plan For Cars

Environment Minister John Baird loves to talk about how the Conservative Government in Ottawa is more than just talk when it comes to their hot air Green Plan. They take action. Well Canadians are still waiting for their kickback for buying a Green Car.

Environment Minister John Baird, right, gives the thumbs-up as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty looks on during an Ottawa news conference in  March to announce the  environmental rebate program. Fred Chartrand/CP

Ottawa can't shift green rebates into gear

More than four months after announcing rebates for those who buy fuel-sipping cars and trucks, the federal government has not paid a cent to buyers of 2006 and 2007 models that qualify, and automakers are voicing complaints as 2008 models flow on to dealers' lots.

The ecoAuto feebate program set up in the March federal budget, offers rebates of up to $2,000 and also slaps a maximum levy of $4,000 on gas guzzlers. But it is angering consumers and growing increasingly messy for the auto companies, associations representing the major automakers operating in Canada say in a letter to Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Environment Minister John Baird.

By contrast, Honda Canada Inc., began offering rebates on its Fit subcompact car and manual transmission Civic compact in May, made them retroactive to budget day, March 19, and is paying the money, senior vice-president Jim Miller said Monday.

The Fit did not qualify under the federal scheme because it uses 6.6 litres of gas to travel 100 kilometres, just missing the cut-off line for rebates on 2007 and 2006 vehicles, which is set at 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres.

People who bought Toyota Yaris subcompacts, ethanol-powered Chevrolet Impalas and Chrysler Sebrings, diesel-powered Smart cars and other alternative -technology vehicles after March 19 are eligible for rebates.

But consumers kicking tires on 2008 models, assuming they will get a rebate, may be out of luck because Transport Canada still hasn't announced what vehicles from the new model year are eligible.

Although sales of Toyota's Yaris jumped in April and May after the program was introduced, they fell in June.

Industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers, who heads DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc., said an analysis of subcompact sales for the past two years shows the so-called feebate program has had little impact on sales.

“We said on day one that the feebate would fail miserably, four months into the program we are being proven to be right,” Mr. DesRosiers said in a note to clients last week.


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