Canadian study: Government initiative needed to boost EV use

Canada (Nicolas Raymond)

A team of researchers from Canada’s Simon Fraser University have published a report that paints a pessimistic picture of EV adoption in the Great White North, at least in the short term.

“Electric vehicles are not likely to make up more than one percent of vehicle sales in the next decade and no more than four or five per cent by 2030,” write Professors Jonn Axsen and Suzanne Goldberg. “There is hope electric vehicles could grow to more than 20 per cent of vehicle sales by 2030 with policies that increase these vehicles’ availability and variety, such as California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Mandate.”

The Canadian federal government currently offers no incentives for EV buyers, but several provincial governments do.

Axsen and Goldberg conducted a survey of current and potential EV buyers, and found that awareness of EVs is low – two thirds of Canadian consumers are not familiar with those currently on the market. Also, supply is limited – about 10 models are available in Canada at select dealerships.

Most of the highlights of Electrifying Vehicles: Insights from the Canadian Plug-in Electric Vehicle Study will be familiar to those who follow the EV scene:

  • “PEV Pioneers” (current EV owners) tend to be of higher income and education and are more engaged in environment- and/or technology-oriented lifestyles, relative to “Mainstream” respondents (non-EV owners).
  • Most Mainstream respondents have little familiarity with PEVs, and are particularly confused about the concept of a PHEV.
  • Only 20-33% of Mainstream respondents are aware of public chargers, but awareness does not seem to influence PEV interest.
  • About one third of Mainstream respondents want a PEV. The vast majority want a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) rather than a pure electric vehicle (BEV).
  • All PEV models are associated with being pro-environmental, while the Tesla is more associated with images of style and success.
  • With today’s electricity grids, usage of PEVs can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80-98% in British Columbia, around 45% in Alberta, and 58-70% in Ontario.
  • Mainstream and Pioneer PEV respondents are generally open to the idea of enrolling in a “utility controlled charging” program.


Source: Simon Fraser University
Image: Nicolas Raymond (CC BY 2.0)

  • Paul Zigouras

    For the mainstream public, EVs made sense back when crude was in the $100 to $150 USD range. Now, at $50/bbl (and falling), they have lost their appeal.

    For most middle and lower class Americans, putting $70/week in the car is somewhat of a burden. However, $35 is not. EVs would have to fall BELOW the price of conventional economy cars (which often achieve 40+ MPG), for most consumers to consider them in this market.

    • Michel

      It is not just about money. Is about understanding how that work . For my self it still cheaper on hydro electric and cleaner too. Running on electric only in the city and using gas on long trip once in a while, priceless

    • Bob Aceti

      Short-sighted incomplete assessment of GHG emissions that cause global warming and affect climate change. There is no better way to reduce GHG than to switch from ICE fossil fueled vehicles to PEVs. The well-to-wheel defence is a non-starter as legacy fossil fuel power generation will continue to be reduced and decommissioned as retirement nears and higher CO2-pollution regulations force investors hands into cleaner power generation. PEV policies require scaled introduction to meet supply constraints and reduction in gas plants with wind, nuclear and solar power generators. It is unrealistic to ramp-up production of PEVs while a large supply of ICE remains in the secondary markets. The approach to conversion requires scale-up of fossil fuel taxes that will fund increased production in PEV and clean power generation.

      • Paul Zigouras

        I agree the EVs would reduce GHG, but there is a better way to do it.

        Instead of taxing fuel, it may be better to simply give incentives for gas stations to convert to solar-powered DC fastcharge stations (level 3), then restrict how many ICE vehicles can be produced/sold in the country. People will switch technologies if there is a financial incentive. And what better incentive than to never pay for fuel again?