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Ottawa expands list of vehicles that qualify for green auto rebates for 2008

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Canadian car buyers now have more choices if they want to purchase a new vehicle that meets the federal government's green rebate program.

Thirty-two vehicles from the 2008 model year now qualify for the government's ecoAUTO Rebate Program, up from 21 last year.

The program gives Canadians cash rebates ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 on the purchase or long-term lease of vehicles that the federal government deems fuel-efficient.

The program, which shifted into gear last March, also includes vehicles from the 2006 and 2007 model years.

While last year's list was dominated by small Toyota models like the Yaris, Corolla, Camry Hybrid and Prius, this year the Smart car coupe and convertible, the Nissan Rogue, Chevrolet HHR and Canada's best selling car, the Honda Civic, are among those that have zoomed onto the list.

Last year, Honda's only vehicle to qualify for the rebate was the Civic Hybrid but this year it's a new deal for the automaker as the two-door and four-door manual transmission Honda Civic get Ottawa's environmental stamp of approval.

Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon said the program helps Canadian motorists make eco-friendly choices that put more green into their wallets as well.

``The ecoAUTO Rebate Program is one example of how this government is encouraging Canadians to make more environmentally friendly transportation choices. It also saves them money and protects their health and the environment,'' said Cannon in a statement.

Depending on the vehicle, some 2008 models have a higher rebate than their 2007 counterparts. For example, the Saturn VUE Hybrid 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, four-speed automatic now qualifies for a $2,000 rebate, compared to $1,000 for the 2007 model, which gets fewer kilometres to the litre than its 2008 counterpart.

The 2008 Highlander Hybrid is eligible for a $1,500 rebate, up $500 from the 2007 model after Toyota boosted its fuel efficiency.

Transport Canada says to qualify for a rebate cheque, new passenger cars must have a combined city-highway fuel consumption of 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres or less while for new minivans, sport utility vehicles and other light trucks, it's 8.3 litres per 100 kilometres or less.

Flex-fuel vehicles _ ones that operate on gasoline or a blend of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent gasoline _ must have a combined city-highway E85 fuel consumption rating of 13 litres per 100 kilometres or less.

The vehicles also must have been bought in Canada.

Toyota said it's happy the federal government is extending the rebate program.

``Efforts to reduce society's environmental footprint are most effective when all stakeholders work together,'' said Stephen Beatty, managing director of Toyota Canada, in a statement.

``This policy encourages both consumers and manufacturers to seek greater fuel-efficiencies,'' said Beatty.

Some automakers didn't make Ottawa's green grade including Mazda, Hyundai and Kia.

Application forms for the rebate are available online (www.ecoaction.gc.ca/ecoauto) or at vehicle dealers.

A full list of qualifying vehicles is available online (http://www.tc.gc.ca/programs/environment/ecotransport/2008ecoautoeligibility. htm).

The feebate program also slaps a maximum levy of $4,000 on SUVs and other gas guzzlers but pickup trucks are exempt.

Ontario, Manitoba and some other provinces already have existing incentive programs that offer rebates when a hybrid vehicle is bought.

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Ottawa expands list of vehicles that qualify for green auto rebates for 2008
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