Full disclosure – I have owned an electric vehicle for three years, and I love it. My purchase was a bit of a leap of faith, but as the former owner of a diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta, perhaps I was spurred on by a need to make retribution to the environment for unknowingly emitting horrendous levels of emissions for many years.
At the time I bought my vehicle, the provincial government had in place incentives to assist with the purchase. The cost of an electric vehicle is higher than an equivalent gas-powered one, and the lifespan of an electric vehicle is determined by the life of its battery, and therefore may be shorter than a gas-powered vehicle, so the investment in purchasing one is not insignificant. The financial incentives were up to $14,000.00, depending on the vehicle.
In addition, there were rebates available to assist with the cost of installing a charging station at home and the associated electrical work.
The provincial Liberal government’s goal was that 5% of all vehicles in Ontario would be electric by the year 2020. The transition from gas-powered vehicles to electric played a large component in climate change policy and in achieving emission reduction targets.
After coming into power in 2018, Doug Ford’s government ended all provincial incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. Not surprisingly, sales in Ontario have plummeted. The same is not true for other provinces which have incentives in place, such as British Columbia and Quebec.
According to Electric Mobility Canada, which tracks sales of electric vehicles, sales in Ontario for the first six months of 2019 were 55% lower than the same period in 2018.
The drop in sales in Ontario has also resulted in an overall lessening of sales nationally. The federal government’s target is for 10% of new vehicles sold by 2025 to be zero-emission vehicles. National sales of electric vehicles for 2019 have been reported as approximately 3.5%. The introduction of a $5,000.00 federal rebate in spring of 2019 has not been enough to increase sales in Ontario, which in turn impacts national statistics.
Interestingly, even though vehicle sales overall are lower for the first quarter of 2020, largely attributed to COVID-19 and social distancing measures, sales of electric vehicles federally comprised 3.8% of all vehicles sold. This is an increase over the 3% market share reported for the last quarter of 2019.
This is still much lower than the target set by the federal government, and will make it more difficult for Canada to meet its emission reduction targets.