Home / Observatory / News / It Is More Difficult To Buy An Electric Car In Canada Than You Would Think


Canada has relatively few electric vehicles on the road because Canadians have a hard time finding one to buy. In fact, it is five times harder than in the US, a new report from finds.
EVs generally need to be ordered and it takes months – eight months in the case of specific cars like the Chevy Bolt – before the car is delivered, according to the report called "Stuck in Neutral". Sales people at dealerships often know little about EVs and redirect the potential buyers to gasoline or hybrid vehicles, said Dan Woynillowicz a policy director at Clean Energy Canada.

Back in 2016, only 11,000 EVs were sold in Canada, compared to 159,000 in the US. It is also not that easy for Americans to get an EV: There are only two battery-electric vehicles – the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt – and one plug-in hybrid (the Chevy Volt) under $50,000 available throughout the US as of October.

While two-thirds of Canada's electricity is renewable, the transportation sector in the second-largest source of carbon pollution, after the gas and oil sector. The Canadian federal government has set an inspirational goal of 30% of car sales in 2030 being EVs and launched a consultation process to develop a Zero-Emissions Vehicle Strategy to increase the EV sales. The report is expected to be launched sometime in 2018.

The strategy will address the lack of EV charging stations across the country, a new study said. So far the government has invested an estimate of $62.5 million, but there are only 1200 dedicated EV charging stations in Canada that can charge two cars at the same time, on average, compared to 12,000 gasoline service stations that can refuel 8 to 12 vehicles.

Canada still has not done enough according to Woynillowicz. "The government could require auto makers to make sure there are actually EVs on dealership lots so that people don't have to go on waiting lists," he said.

Norway did that, by setting a hard target of 100,000 EV sales by 2020. With a population of just 5.2 million, Norway made it easy for the public to purchase EVs using tax incentives and green car perks: free public parking, exemption from toll charges and ferry fees, as well as free charging at public stations, among others.

The EV revolution is happening fast as these cars' costs are expected to be the same as internal combustion vehicles in less than a decade, an online report claims. Norway will ban sales of internal combustion cars by 2025. The Netherlands, Scotland, UK and France have announced similar plans from 2030 to 2040, the report said. By 2040 more than 90% of all passenger vehicles in the US, Canada, Europe and other first world countries could be electric, according to a working paper from the International Monetary Fund.

"The electric car revolution will create huge opportunities in mining, in auto-parts and auto manufacturing, in cleantech – areas Canada excels in," said Woynillowicz. "An ambitious and strong strategy could make Canada a global EV player, while also reducing pollution."


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