Electric bicycles and electric tricycles have now become exempt from the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) as of April 21, 2021 and local bike shops say that the anticipated spike in demand could cause supply issues.
The government has decided to drop PST on the human-powered two-wheelers, which comes as a welcomed change for cycling advocates wanting e-bikes to become more accessible for all.
“We have been advocating that PST from the bikes should be removed and we are very glad that the government has decided to do that,” said HUB Cycling Director of Campaigns, Navdeep Chhina.
E-bikes that qualify for the PST exemption must be able to be human-powered with the use of foot or hand cranks (pedals).
Additionally, they must also have wheels at least 350mm in diameter and an electric motor with a maximum total output of 500W. The bike cannot exceed 32 km/h or have an internal combustion engine.
Along with actual e-bikes themselves being exempt from PST, electric-assist kits will also be included.
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“Equally important is that the government has also removed the PST from kits that can be used to retrofit a current bike to an electric-assist bike,” adds Chhina.
The HUB Cycling Director of Campaigns says these conversion kits allow for more people without as many resources to begin using e-bikes for transport, noting that the price of e-bikes, which can range between $2000-$17,000, is a drawback for those wanting to get into cycle commuting.
With this new exemption on PST, local bike shops on Vancouver Island are expecting the sales of e-bikes to rise, however, products in this category have already been rapidly growing in recent years and supply shortages with the pandemic could cause issues for demand.
“This past year, we’ve seen significant growth as people have been keeping closer to home and spending their travel money,” said Ride the Glide RTG E-Bikes Inc. Co-Owner, Corinne Besler.
“The supply is getting very difficult. Timelines for production have doubled, parts are getting scarcely hard to find to the point that parts that we put on our bikes, we’ve had to change the product because of unavailability,” said Besler.
Besler adds that her shop currently has a larger order coming in of bikes, but they are being told to plan for 2022.
Both Chhina and Besler say investments in infrastructure, as well as cycling education and courtesy, will be needed as riding becomes more popular and more accessible.