Ontario’s EV situation is dramatic. Here’s how we can help | David K. Paley

In Ontario there are 100,000 electric vehicles on the road today. Tesla is available in all 11 of the province’s byelections and more than 10,000 Ontario residents are electric vehicle owners. This is nothing…

Ontario's EV situation is dramatic. Here's how we can help | David K. Paley

In Ontario there are 100,000 electric vehicles on the road today. Tesla is available in all 11 of the province’s byelections and more than 10,000 Ontario residents are electric vehicle owners. This is nothing short of remarkable. But right now, according to a recent report from the Ontario Coalition for Environmental Justice (ECJ), Ontario has a few things going for it that makes this province even more attractive for electric vehicle adoption.

ECJ recently released a comprehensive report on electric vehicle adoption in Ontario. Let’s start with the most compelling bit of information about electric vehicles. According to EV advocate Christine Hudson, EV ownership is becoming a reality because of the reduction in traffic congestion, lower gasoline prices, and an increase in air quality. EVs are less harmful to the environment than conventional vehicles, emitting significantly less carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and lead. As a result, electricity generated in Ontario does not contribute to climate change.

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ECJ’s report suggests that the decision to purchase electric vehicles is changing. In 2015, 58% of consumers in Ontario drove plug-in vehicles, but a mere 27% purchased the most efficient, more economical plug-in vehicles. Hudson suggests that there are a number of potential reasons for this trend. First, consumers may be choosing conventional vehicles over EVs due to the range limitations of EVs, their increased cost, and lack of market awareness of EVs.

In general, consumers and our municipal governments can play a role in reducing consumer demand for conventional vehicles by purchasing electric vehicles and upgrading infrastructure to support the uptake of EVs. For example, Ontario’s major cities and towns could promote EVs among their populations by offering incentives for new purchases and by retrofitting existing fleets.

All 21 cities in the ECJ Cities Campaign are currently operating with municipal electric vehicle charging networks. The majority of Ontario’s cities are working towards equitable charging infrastructure to make it easier for all users to charge and include electric charging stations in larger street-lighting initiatives. With the recent announcement by the province to support this by increasing funding for EV incentives, we will see more cities taking the lead on charging infrastructure. And if more EV charging stations are installed by municipalities, this will be a good thing for climate change, saving Ontarians money on their electricity bills.

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The most significant changes in the electric vehicle landscape since 2010 were the massive increase in lithium-ion battery and network capacity. In 2013, the US Department of Energy announced an additional $3.2bn for battery research and development. In total, more than $3.4bn in federal funds have been invested in battery research and development since 2012.

Tesla is the first company to introduce fully electric vehicles in the United States and Australia. The company has already shipped more than 27,000 vehicles since 2010. And as a result of their affordable EVs, the company has more than 100,000 customers in over 35 countries (and an additional 20,000 in China).

What’s more, Tesla’s success has been a model for other EV manufacturers to adopt. Holden has responded to Tesla’s success by launching in China and selling an average of 700 cars per month since 2014. Ford, Tesla’s most recent investor, has been taking advantage of Tesla’s success and has announced its intention to sell 100,000 electrics by 2020. As an extension of Tesla’s plans, Ford plans to sell 100,000 electrics in the United States by 2020 and aims to eventually sell two million electric vehicles worldwide by 2025.

Ontario is working towards becoming a “model” province for electric vehicles. By promoting and supporting cities and towns with infrastructure upgrades to support EVs, the province will continue on the path towards a low-carbon future.

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