Consumers, not policies, should drive demand for electric vehicles in Canada
September 15, 2017
While the current global stock of electric vehicles (EVs) represents only 0.2% of passenger cars in circulation according to the International Energy Agency, government leaders around the world continue to announce new targets and incentives to increase the number of EVs on the road as part of their climate change strategies.
In Canada, only 11,580 EVs were sold in 2016, which represented a mere 0.59% market share. Despite this, the federal government is moving forward with a strategy to increase the number of EVs on the road by 2018, and three provinces have announced programs that include rebates on EV purchases and home charging stations.
While we must continue the fight against climate change, government policies should not tip the scales in favour of one industry. Offering rebates, incentives and subsidies to promote the adoption of EVs should be reconsidered, especially when taxpayer funds are being used to subsidize the purchase of $75,000 vehicles.
Ultimately, consumers should decide if EVs are a viable option in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
According Tomorrow’s Vehicles, a report by the Fuels Institute, projections into 2025 indicate that gasoline and diesel will retain their dominant share of the fleet with 96.2% of vehicles on the road.
There are a number of reasons for this. Among them are that gasoline and diesel vehicles have a long life span, are relatively affordable to purchase and increased fuel efficiency over the last several decades has made them very attractive for consumers.
When it comes to EVs, there still appear to be several factors that are hindering widespread consumer adoption. Range anxiety is a primary factor, as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can only withstand 20-80km on a single charge while battery electric vehicles (BEVs) can withstand longer driving distances of 200-400km. Charging these vehicles can also take several hours, and there are limited number of charging stations available, particularly in rural areas.
As governments consider policy options to fight climate change, they must not artificially elevate an industry based on a rocky foundation of incentives and rebates. They must look to the future and determine how funds can be collected through the gas tax, for example, to support EVs.
CIPMA embraces a marketplace that continually adapts to consumer demands, as long as consumer demands are not artificially inflated by government policies.