Electric vehicles: Canada’s solar-powered future

Written by John Frisbie, President and CEO, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association

This post is part of our series– “E which is electric…CO which is not” – an annual look at the state of electrification in Canada, and its industry in particular.

Ontario’s ambitious commitment to electric vehicles is paying off. In 2018, for the first time, the province recorded higher sales of electric vehicles than conventional models.

This is good news for the Canadian economy, good news for the environment, and good news for Ontario. Between 2008 and 2018, electric vehicle production, employment and consumption rose by 187%. At roughly the same time, growth in sales jumped a whopping 245%.

Five Canadian provinces still have no targets to reduce petroleum consumption. Yet, in Ontario, we’re ahead of the curve

Right now, more than 20% of Ontario’s vehicles are of electric and plug-in hybrid models. We’re a global leader.

Yet, five Canadian provinces still have no targets to reduce petroleum consumption. Yet, in Ontario, we’re ahead of the curve. We were the first province to bring in a 100% zero-emission target for new passenger vehicle purchases.

We set a goal to produce 800,000 zero-emission vehicles by 2025. This was possible because Ontario had already taken steps to improve both our environment and our economy with other climate action measures, such as reducing emissions from industry and the transportation sector.

Perhaps most importantly, we changed Ontario’s auto supply chain by requiring manufacturers to meet a higher level of Ontario content. This meant that our parts suppliers were fully equipped to supply us with plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles. As a result, our demand for electric vehicles has skyrocketed – despite a lack of short-term production capacity, as we’ve only just started rolling out vehicles this year.

More automakers are making EVs in Ontario. Honda, Toyota, Volvo, Opel, Mazda, Fiat, PSA and Mitsubishi are all expanding their footprint here, bringing more jobs and more investment, while spreading the burden from those who build conventional vehicle components.

This progress speaks volumes about the exciting and transformative role of electric vehicles – and the courageous leadership they are about to take on the global stage. We just have to take the next step.

Key recommendations

Five recommendations that may help spur further growth for the EV sector:

Boost the number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle charging stations in cities, so Canadians can use public charging infrastructure as a source of public charging as well as charging stations for EV owners.

Implement a long-term policy to encourage automakers to build and sell electric vehicles in Ontario.

Create incentives to move more electric vehicles from an expensive battery into a more affordable plug-in hybrid vehicle.

Consider setting a national threshold for the sale of EVs of 85% of new vehicle sales.

Implement an industrial strategy that includes providing supportive mechanisms, including the Building Value Partnerships to help ensure Ontario has the right demand for vehicles.

Work with all parties to modernize the Motor Vehicle Sales Act, which could include vehicles eligibility requirements that recognize the growing role EVs play in the electrification of transportation.

Take a look at all the other pieces of this fantastic five-part series, “E which is electric…CO which is not” here.

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