The Ontario provincial government has opened a $1 million electric vehicle discovery centre in Toronto where drivers can learn about and test drive EVs.
According to Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray, the discovery centre is the first of its kind in the world, and was conceived as part of the environment ministry’s promotion of electric vehicles as a means of fighting climate change.
Beyond letting curious consumers learn about and drive electric vehicles for free, the centre will also promote the province’s EV purchase rebates, which can add up to $14,000, plus an additional $1,000 for buyers who also install a home charging station.
For a province as invested in the success of electric vehicles as Ontario, educating buyers on the EV offerings available can’t hurt: in May 2016, B.C.‘s Simon Fraser University published a study suggesting that most Canadians simply don’t understand how EVs and hybrid cars work.
A more recent survey showed that most Canadians aren’t ready to make the move into advanced-technology vehicles like electric and autonomous cars.
Ontario’s Liberal government says the centre is being funded by revenue from the province’s carbon cap-and-trade program, Ontario Power Generation, Toronto Hydro, Bruce Power, and the Power Workers’ Union, along with private investments from TD Canada Trust bank.
But the cost is drawing criticism from the opposition Progressive Conservative Party, whose environment critic Ted Arnott said he fails to see “how this new discovery centre … will cause electric vehicle sales to increase,” and feels the cap-and-trade money should go back to the province’s taxpayers.
The discovery centre doesn’t sell cars, but its staff will refer visitors to local dealerships that do sell the electric vehicle they’re most interested in.
According to its website, the Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre has on display a BMW i8, Chevrolet Volt, Mitsubishi i-Miev, and Tesla models; cars available for test drives include the BMW i3, Chevrolet Bolt, Ford C-Max Energi, and Nissan LEAF.
The Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre is located on Finch Avenue, in the North York suburb located north of downtown Toronto.