Pass the Subsidies: The Chevrolet Bolt’s Northern Roll-out is a Slow One

Anyone living north of the border who’d like a Chevrolet Bolt for Christmas might have to wait a while, depending on where they live.

The first 238-mile electric subcompacts should trickle into dealers in California and Oregon before the end of the year, but there’ll be new calendars on the wall before any Canadians get behind the wheel. Even then, the Bolt won’t stray far from the public money spigot.

According to Automotive News Canada, only those living in three of the country’s 10 provinces can place an order for a Bolt right now. The first deliveries should occur in early 2017.

GM Canada spokesman George Saratlic confirmed that select dealers in those provinces are now taking orders. Availability should expand to the rest of Canada within a year of the first delivery. In total, about half of the country’s GM dealers will jump aboard the Bolt bandwagon, but there’s a catch — for obvious reasons, urban dealers will form the bulk of the total tally, and only those that sell the Volt can join in.

This means that EV aficionados living in Jerkwater and Nowheresville, Canada will probably need to hitch a ride to a faraway dealership to satisfy their urge.

Population aside, there’s a good reason why GM made the Bolt available to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia buyers first, and it’s not because of a simmering hatred for Manitoba. In those provinces, you see, green car subsidies flow from the mountains. There’s no federal EV incentives in Canada — unlike the U.S. — so the automaker wants provincial government incentives to spark interest and sales. In Ontario especially, the rebate significantly knocks down the Bolt’s $44,395 starting price.

B.C. offers $5,000 to eligible EV buyers, while Quebec offers up to $8,000 (as well as the perk of the country’s lowest electricity prices). In Ontario, however, there’s $11,361 to be had from the public purse. That places the entry-level price, which includes shipping, at $33,034 — not too far off the $29,995 U.S. price (after federal tax credit).

Perhaps wanting to avoid a jinx, GM hasn’t issued a formal sales projection for the Bolt. Unsubstantiated claims put the possible tally somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 units, but one analyst said 80,000 isn’t out of the question.