Moving from laggards to leaders in the Transportation rEVolution

As our recent report  shows, Canada’s electric vehicle numbers lag far behind jurisdictions like Norway and California. Clearly, we’ve got a long way to go. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Our report also shows what’s possible with a little leadership.
Take the example of Quebec. Thanks to government incentive programs, the number of electric vehicles in this province increased a whopping 205 per cent over last year. B.C.’s incentive program saw similar results, while their carbon tax makes saying bye-bye to gas-guzzlers even more enticing. And in Ontario, rebates of up to $8,500 made it easier than ever for drivers to go electric.
It comes as no surprise that these provinces account for 97 per cent of EV sales in Canada. Incentives work. These programs need to continue, while other provinces introduce similar initiatives.

An electric Nissan Leaf vehicle at a recharging station on the street in Berkeley Square, London, UK © Global Warming Images / WWF-Canon
An electric Nissan Leaf vehicle at a recharging station on the street in Berkeley Square, London, UK © Global Warming Images / WWF-Canon

Public charging stations
Of course, an EV doesn’t do you much good if it runs out of juice before you can make it back from visiting Aunt Sally. In La belle province, Hydro Quebec worked with the business community to install more than 200 public charging stations. It’s a great example of a provincial utility, municipalities and the private sector working hand-in-hand to drive change—something that the rest of Canada can learn from.
Moving forward, we need to see more of these charging stations, especially in condos and workplace settings, and more fast-charging DC stations for longer-distance trips.
Car manufacturers have a role to play as well by giving drivers more EV models to choose from. There’s a good selection of compact models out there already, but expect more sizes and more variety in the coming year.
Electric power cord recharging an electric automobile. © / WWF-Canada
Electric power cord recharging an electric vehicle. © / WWF-Canada

Hands-on experience
Finally, as I’ve said before, the biggest challenge looking ahead isn’t incentives or infrastructure. It’s giving Canadians more opportunities to get behind the wheel of an EV. As we hear time and again, driving is believing.
Together, these pieces add up to a greener future. But to get us there, we need to see leadership across the board—federally, provincially, municipally, with utility companies, in the private sector and with consumers from coast to coast to coast. WWF’s 2020 goal of 600,000 electric vehicles on Canadian roads is achievable. But only if we work together and only if we take the necessary steps now.
One great example of leadership came just last week when the government of Quebec announced a comprehensive plan to continue their work on the electrification of public, private and cargo transportation. The $516 million investment will support the continuation of purchase incentives for EVs, the building of 5,000 new charging stations and the gradual replacement of government fleet vehicles with EVs. The Quebec government plans to introduce 12,500 new EVs on the road in the province by 2017.
Check out our handy infographic to learn more about where we’re at and where we need to go to reach our goal.