Canada needs to do more to promote electric vehicle use, says a report put out by Simon Fraser University think-tank Clean Energy Canada.

"Canada needs to speed up and get serious about electric cars," say the authors of Stuck in Neutral: Tracking the Energy Revolution 2017.

The report notes that in 2016 only 0.59 per cent of new cars purchased in Canada were electric. 

That's far behind world leader Norway, where almost 30 per cent of new cars on the road are EVs (electric vehicles), and about half the rate at which Americans are switching to zero-emission plug-ins.

Clean Energy Canada's Dan Woynillowicz says more EV-friendly policies are needed in Canada.

"There are several things the federal government can do. One is to actually require that auto makers make more electric cars available — make sure we've actually got them on dealership lots so that people don't have to go on waiting lists."

The report notes that in Canada there is an eight-month waiting list for anyone wanting to buy a popular Chevy Bolt EV.

Other strategies the report suggests for attaining better EV uptake include:

  • A national zero-emissions vehicle strategy.
  • Binding targets for EV sales.
  • A requirement that auto makers ensure a minimum and growing percentage of cars sold in Canada will be zero-emission.
  • A national incentive program that would include point-of-sale rebates.
  • Better EV charging infrastructure and planning.
  • Help for the Canadian mining sector in capitalizing on demand for metals and minerals needed in EV battery manufacturing.

Woynillowicz notes that the three biggest provinces — B.C., Ontario and Quebec — are moving in the right direction.

Electric car charging port

An electric vehicle recharges. Norway leads the way when it comes to promotion of electric vehicles and has announced that the sale of internal combustion cars will be banned starting in 2025. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

 

"[They] have both programs to deliver incentives and rebates to people who are buying cars as well as chargers, and they are building out electric vehicle charging infrastructure."

The Clean Energy Vehicle for B.C. program offers a point-of-sale rebate of $5,000 for eligible EVs and $6,000 for hydrogen fuel cell cars. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles like the Toyota Prius are eligible for a $2,500 rebate. 

Britain, France, Norway, India, Germany, and the Netherlands have all committed to selling nothing but electric cars by the year 2040 or earlier.

With file from Tanya Fletcher