The auto industry appears divided by plans by the Candian province of Ontario to offer rebates on the purchase of electric cars.

The plans announced by premier Dalton McGuinty are made of a rebate of up to C$10,000 to purchasers of electric vehicles after 1 July 2010.

"This will be the most attractive rebate, certainly in North America," McGuinty said at a press conference. "It may be the most attractive rebate ... in the world."

The plans were greeted with support by GM Canada.

"With this bold initiative, the premier is taking a significant step in positioning Ontario as a leading jurisdiction in the adoption of clean electric vehicles like the revolutionary Chevrolet Volt extended range electric vehicle" said Neil Macdonald, vice president, corporate and environmental affairs for General Motors of Canada. "The Chevrolet Volt will be available in the second quarter of 2011 and it will nearly eliminate the need for many commuters to visit a gas station."  

However, there was criticism from other quarters.

"We don't want government deciding winners and losers," said Jerry Chenkin, executive vice-president of Honda Canada. "This announcement of a $10,000 rebate is creating winners and losers on products that aren't available yet and [on which] nobody knows the real time line," he said.

Toyota Canada, meanwhile, despite having plans for its own hybrid, also questioned the plans.

"Ultimately, technologies have to succeed on the basis of consumers using their own dollars to vote in favour of the technology," said Stephen Beatty, Toyota Canada's managing director. "I'm not sure they've thought through who that customer is and how those technologies can best be applied."

Rebates will begin at C$4,000.