Boosting Electric Vehicle Adoption in Canada

Vehicle manufacturers are collectively bringing to market a growing of number of electric vehicles across all vehicle segments meeting consumer utility needs. More than 60 models are now available with over 130 models expected in the coming years.   

In Canada, Québec, British Columbia and Ontario lead in the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles, plug-in electric hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), as a result of a comprehensive set of policies aimed at increasing acceptance of these technologies. While the currently aligned Canada-U.S. light duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emission regulations also compel manufacturers to bring a growing number of these vehicles to market, it remains essential that market supports remain in place now and for a period into the future to encourage consumer adoption of these technologies.

Necessary electric vehicle market support policies:

  • Consumer Electric Vehicle Purchase Incentives
    There is a direct correlation between increased consumer electric & fuel cell vehicle adoption rates in those jurisdictions that provide substantial consumer point of purchase incentives and other consumer supports. Consumers must see a consistent and predictable incentive program in order to have confidence in choosing this vehicle technology and such programs need to be made available until such time as electric vehicles reach price parity with comparable model internal combustion engine vehicles estimated to be in the 2028-2030 period. Jurisdictions such as the state of California have continued to see the need to maintain consumer incentive programs, along with a suite of other support policies, despite having a Zero Emission Vehicle regulation. The high cost of electric vehicles remains a key consideration for consumers and at this time, vehicle manufacturers are providing built-in electric vehicle price incentives that in many cases exceed the total government consumer incentives; these will continue depending on the battery development cost curve and until price parity is achieved with comparable internal combustion engine vehicles.

    Importantly, where a jurisdiction has eliminated or materially reduced the availability of consumer electric vehicle purchase incentives, the negative sales impact is quick and dramatic.


  • Recharging Infrastructure
    Electric vehicle purchasers knowing that they will have ready access to recharging outlets is essential to reducing range anxiety and increasing their confidence in making their decision to purchase this new technology. Governments, agencies and employers are highly encouraged to continue efforts to expand charging infrastructure in the public domain and through individual consumer supports. At present recharging infrastructure is concentrated in urban areas; intercity corridors are now expanding as well. Advancements in battery technology are also enabling greater distances to be travelled on a single charge.
  • Consumer Education
    Support for effective consumer education and demonstration programs is another critical area for government- industry collaboration. Reducing the mystique around electric vehicle technology and providing consumers with information that will help them understand the value proposition for an electric vehicle that meets their transportation needs.
  • Other
    Additional indirect consumer motivation supports, combined with the above have been influential in a consumers’ consideration of an electric vehicle purchase. These may include but not be limited to: high occupancy vehicle lane access, preferential parking and reduced or eliminated road tolls. Recent industry polling identified a range of policies and programs that would encourage consumers to consider an electric vehicle for their next purchase.


Zero Emission Vehicle Regulation

Where jurisdictions in Canada have or are planning to introduce policies leading to Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) regulation, consideration must be given to best practice compliance pathways, as well as sufficient regulatory flexibilities for vehicle manufacturers, all of which are necessary to ensure the longer term success of the policy.

Such an approach which uses a credit generating system forces manufacturers to sell a specific ratio of new zero emission vehicles (electric vehicles) at rates that exceed the natural consumer uptake of these vehicle technologies. Consequences of these new regulations will unnecessarily force additional costs on consumers and potentially restrict their choice of non-electric vehicles if manufacturers are unable to comply with aggressive government electric vehicle sales targets.

Accelerated On-Road Fleet Turnover – A Significant Opportunity for Transportation-related Greenhouse Gas reduction

Electric vehicles have the potential to reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions but at present, they only represent about 4% of annual new vehicle sales. Due to the size and age of the on-road internal combustion fleet across the country and the fact that they represent a disproportionate amount of emissions, policies which accelerate fleet turnover, will achieve significantly greater reductions in greenhouse gases (and smog related emissions) more quickly. New replacement vehicles are far more fuel efficient and emit significantly fewer emissions, they are also equipped with more comprehensive safety systems – a triple win.