The Ontario government gave taxpayer-funded rebates to five millionaires to buy one of the most expensive cars ever manufactured, the Porsche 918 Spyder.
CBC News has learned that five Ontario drivers received funding through the province's Electric Vehicle Incentive Program in 2015 for buying the Porsche 918, which retailed in Canada at about $1.1 million.
The 918 is a plug-in hybrid, assembled by hand at a specialized Porsche factory in Stuttgart, Germany, and hailed by the company as "the future of the sports car." Road tests showed the 887-horsepower supercar could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 2.2 seconds.
Documents obtained by CBC News show the taxpayer-funded rebates to five Porsche 918 Spyder buyers in Ontario averaged $5,538 each.
"Why are we subsidizing luxury vehicles for millionaires?" asked Christine Van Geyn, Ontario director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, in an interview with CBC News. "If you can afford a Porsche Spyder you probably don't need a $5,000 subsidy from regular folks."
Porsche manufactured only 918 of the vehicles for distribution worldwide, and they sold out within a year. A used Porsche 918 Spyder with 355 kilometres on the odometer is currently for sale from a Montreal dealership for $2,050,000.
"If you can afford a Porsche Spyder you probably don't need a $5,000 subsidy from regular folks."
Multi-millionaire investor Michael Wekerle of CBC Dragons' Den was one Ontario-based buyer of the vehicle. Wekerle's Porsche 918 went up in flames at a service station in Caledon, northwest of Toronto, in September 2014.
Wekerle was not available on Monday to answer questions about whether he received a subsidy to buy the car.
'Program should be scrapped'
Few electric vehicles were on the market when Ontario's incentive program was launched in 2010, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Bob Nichols in a statement. "The program's objectives at this time were to support the adoption of electric vehicles and to incentivize early adopters," he said.
Ontario's provincial government recently changed the rules for its electric vehicle incentives, so cars that retail for more than $150,000 are no longer eligible for rebates.
"The whole program should really be scrapped," said Van Geyn. "We don't need to incentivize people to be buying these cars. It just doesn't make any policy sense."
The documents obtained by CBC News reveal that Ontario taxpayers have subsidized the buyers of other cars with six-figure price tags.
- $362,032 in incentives to 64 wealthy Ontarians to buy the BMW i8, a car that currently retails at $150,000 in Canada.
- $212,500 in subsidies to 25 drivers to buy the Fisker Karma (retail price: $103,000 US, or roughly $130,000 Cdn ).
- $170,000 in rebates to 20 buyers of the Tesla Roadster Convertible (retail price: $109,000 US, or roughly $138,000 Cdn).
From the program's inception in 2010 until the changes announced in February, Ontario gave $39 million in electric vehicle incentives to 4,793 drivers. The most popular vehicle in Ontario's electric vehicle incentive program is the Chevrolet Volt Hatchback, with 1,200 owners getting rebates totaling $9,955,748.
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