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Electric Vehicles Policy Backgrounder


  • There is constant evidence of the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions greatly, in order to tackle the climate crisis. A recent paper in Nature showed that for a 50% chance of keeping the global rise in temperature below 2C, cumulative global emissions up to 2050 must be limited to 1,100 gigatonnes of CO2. Most fossil fuels will need to remain in the ground, including 99% of Canada’s oil sands. Globally, fossil fuel reserves are 2,900 Gt. The Earth’s known fossil fuel resources are 11,000 Gt.
  • NASA climate scientist James Hansen has stated that “2C global warming is a disaster scenario that must be avoided.”
  • To meet its fair share of necessary global greenhouse gas reductions and minimize the harm of climate change, Canada must cut its GHGs by 100% by 2040.
  • Transportation produces 28% of Canada’s GHGs.
  • EVs offer a way to reduce the impact of transportation even when fossil fuels power the grid.
  • Canada lacks any national EV adoption targets or policies.
  • Canada has an abundance of clean, zero-carbon, low-cost electricity.
  • Canada’s federal government has stated that it will seek to harmonize with US climate policies.

Electric Vehicles

  • By September 2014 600,000 EVs had been sold globally. The US leads with 260,000, followed by Japan with 95,000 and China with 77,000. There are also around 6 million hybrid electric (non plug-in) cars.
  • Canada has no official target, but in 2010 Natural Resources Canada’s Electric Vehicle Technology Roadmap for Canada set a vision of 500,000 EVs by 2018, 15% of the market for new vehicles.
  • There is clear evidence that financial incentives drive EV uptake.
  • In the US, EVs have a federal tax credit of $2,500 plus $417 per kwh of battery capacity up to $5,000. Total incentive = $7,500 US. The top sellers are the Chevy Volt 73,000; Nissan Leaf 72,000; Toyota Prius HEV 38,000; Tesla Model S 38,000. Total EVs on the road = 290,000, 40% in California
  • In Norway, EVs were 12% of automobile registrations in October; 14% for the first 10 months of the year, dominated by the Nissan LEAF and the VW e-Golf. In Dec 2014 Norway had 43,000 EVs (95% full EVs, 5% hybrids), chasing a goal of 50,000 EVs by 2018. Norway’s financial incentives make EVs cost the same as a regular car, plus free parking, free ferries, free charging, and free use of HOV lanes.
  • Ontario has a vision for 5% EVs by 2020. The province gives EV purchase incentives up to $8,500; a green licence plate allows single occupant EVs access to the high occupancy lanes on highways. 20% of Ontario Public Service passenger vehicle purchases will be electric by 2020.
  • Quebec’s 2011 – 2020 Action Plan wants 300,000 EVs in Quebec by 2020 = 25% of new light passenger vehicle sales.
  • BC’s Clean Car Incentive of up to $5,000 expired in March 31, 2013 and has not been replaced. $6 million has been funded for 450 charging stations, including highway fast-charging.
  • Personal experience from an EV driver on Salt Spring shows that a Nissan Leaf costs $15 - $20 a month in electricity, versus $250 a month in gas for their previous vehicle.
  • The cost of EV batteries is falling steadily, enabling cheaper vehicles to enter the market, falling from $1000/kwh to $750 (Nissan Leaf). Current battery prices are around $500/kwh. They need to fall to $200 to enable new EVs to cost the same as conventional cars.

EV Take-Up Rates

  • San Francisco: 15,000 EV drivers out of 838,000 people = 1.8%
  • Norway: 44,000 EV drivers out of 5 million people = 0.88%
  • Los Angeles: 17,000 EV drivers out of 4 million people= 0.425%
  • Salt Spring: 30 EV drivers out of 10,000 people = 0.3%
  • California: 102,440 EV drivers out of 39 million = 0.26%
  • Oregon: 6,000 EV drivers out of 3.97 million = 0.15%
  • BC: 1400 EV drivers out of 4.6 million = 0.03%
  • Canada: 9300 EV drivers (including hybrid EVs) out of 33 million = 0.028%

Canada’s Ideal EV Policy

  1. Adopt the vision of the Electric Vehicle Technology Roadmap for Canada, and establish a goal to see 500,000 EVs on the road by 2024, and the full conversion of Canada’s light-duty vehicle fleet to EVs by 2040.
  2. Establish a High-Level Electric Vehicles Task Force dedicated to making Canada EV-friendly.
  3. Require Canada’s auto-industry to reduce vehicle fleet CO2 emissions standards from the current 153 grams CO2 per km by 2016 to the EU goal of 95g CO2/km by 2020, and zero grams by 2040.
  4. Match US EV incentives and tax breaks, equivalent to US $7,500 per vehicle. This would cost $750 million over 5 years for 100,000 vehicles, plus support for more charging stations.
  5. Apply a CO2 emissions scale to the federal sales tax for new and used vehicles, with a lower rate of tax on efficient vehicles being cross-financed by a higher rate of tax on inefficient vehicles.
  6. Seek a continental agreement with the United States and Mexico for the transformation of North American vehicle industry to zero carbon transportation.

Party Platforms

The Conservative Party website does not address transportation or EVs. Information on the Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada websites suggest that the government’s current support for EVs is primarily information and coordination, with some research, and some funding for EV recharging infrastructure. The prime minister has said that Canada would harmonize its climate policies with the US. Logically, therefore, the government should match the US EV incentive of up to $7,500, which has encouraged the sale of 290,000 electric vehicles. Canada’s EV sales in January 2014 were 6,000

NDP Transport Policy  

New Democrats believe in:

  • Imposing strict energy efficiency and emissions standards for motor vehicles, appliances, and buildings.
  • Reshaping energy policy for the 21st century means moving away from fossil-fuel dependence toward a green energy future by investing in solar, wind, wave, and geothermal sources, working with provinces and territories to share clean energy; and ensuring energy conservation in transportation and building methods.
  • Investing in the development of “green cars”.

Liberal Party Transport Policy

  • BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada consult with provinces, territories and municipalities and propose an integrated, intermodal national transportation strategy, that serves large and small communities, within two years of taking office;
  • BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a Liberal Government develop a predictable and reliable transportation funding commitment for at least 10 years, with the allocation of funds to be determined by the population and predicted growth of the population.

Green Party Policy  

Green Party MPs will:

  • Work with the motor industry, provinces, territories and other partners to develop a sustainable vehicles strategy, leading to an 85% reduction in emissions below today's level by 2040.
  • Adopt California standards requiring a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from new vehicles sold in Canada by 2015, 50% by 2020 and 90% by 2025.  This will drive the manufacture of zero-emission vehicles and the infrastructure to support them.  It will also create fuel efficiency standards in line with leading U.S. states for the 2011 model year.
  • Accelerate the market arrival of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fully electric vehicles by signing the Plug-In Partners advanced purchasing agreement (creating a federal buying pool) with a commitment to buy large numbers of PHEVs for federal government use as soon as they are available. Carbon conditionality clauses in federal contracts will include a requirement for the purchase of plug-in vehicles as soon as they are more readily available.
  • Work with all governments and businesses in Canada to join a Canadian green car buying pool and to join the Plug-In Partners buying pool.
  • Offer scale-based rebates of up to $5,000 for the purchase of the most efficient vehicles, and scale-based fees on the purchase of inefficient vehicles.
  • Require mandatory vehicle fuel efficiency labeling, adopting the European system.
  • Allow tax write-off benefits only for energy efficient company cars.
  • Provide incentives for Canadian manufacturers of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
  • Establish a new authority to create a just transition fund for the automobile sector, funded by an additional fee on all sales of inefficient cars in Canada.

(By way of disclosure, Guy Dauncey, BCSEA Communications Director, contributed extensively to the Green Party’s Climate Policy seven years ago, including EV policies.)

Bloc Quebecois Policy

In 2009 the Bloc proposed a 3 step plan for electrical vehicles with the goal that in 10 years, 15% of cars in Québec could be electric.

  • Step 1: Improve batteries by increased support for R & D.   
  • Step 2: Develop EV recharging infrastructure.
  • Step 3: Incentives for people to buy electric vehicles.


BC Sustainable Energy Association

Empowering British Columbians to build a clean, renewable energy future

www.bcsea.org  info@bcsea.org

January 2015