Study: Canadian EV Scene Needs Awareness Push From Government, More Models

JUL 17 2015 BY JAY COLE 13

What Is That Car About, Eh?

What Is That Car About, Eh?

A recent study put out by a team of researchers from Simon Fraser University says Canadians are very receptive to electric vehicles, but the government needs to do more (anything?) to speed adoption.

The SFU study found that more than one third of Canadian buyers want an electric vehicle (with the Chevy Volt being the most sought after overall), but current sales are mired down by low public awareness of the technology along with limited plug-in vehicle choices.

“Electric vehicles are not likely to make up more than one percent of vehicle sales in the next decade and no more than four or five per cent by 2030,” says team leader Professor John Axsen of the current pace.

With Elections Almost Underway, Canadian EV Advocates Look To The Government To Start A Federal Incentive Program For EVs (via

With Elections Almost Underway, Canadian EV Advocates Look To The Government To Start A Federal Incentive Program For EVs (via

The study finds that this gloom outlook projection could rise 5-fold (up to 20% in 15 years time) if policies are put in place to emulate California’s Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, and to bring more awareness and models to the market.

Some results from the study:

* – awareness of electric vehicles is low – 67% of Canadians aren’t familiar with today’s electric vehicles

* – selection of plug-ins is limited, with only ~10 models available, and often only via select dealerships

* – EVs produce 80 to 90 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than comparable Canadian gasoline vehicles

With myself as the lone writer on the InsideEVs’ staff that spends 8 months of the year in Toronto, Canada,  I can certainly vouch for a deep ignorance of electric vehicles in the country compared to the United States and Europe, although that trend has been changing of late.

(Personal note:  I think I was only stopped twice in all of 2011 by anyone even familiar with an EV in Canada…although to be fair it wasn’t released in the country until October of that year)

Today, knowledge of electric vehicles is somewhat more common place in Canada, but we think the study’s estimate that 33% of Canadian’s want an EV is about 90% too high – perhaps they meant to say 33% of Canadians know that an electric vehicle is a real thing.

And while we agree with the findings of this report – specifically that more awareness (and more models available nationally) would indeed mean better EV adoption in Canada, a federal rebate program would probably go even further in advancing the cause.

Currently, there are province-level incentive programs to purchase EVs in Ontario (up to $8,500), Quebec (up to $8,000) and British Columbia (up $5,000); but the reality that almost 99% of the 13,000+ plug-in sales to date in Canada are found in those 3 areas is a telling statistic.

With elections soon underway in Canada, there is currently a movement via Simon-Pierre Rioux at, to write to federal politicians to make a nationwide incentive program for EVs a reality.  So, if you are a Canadian reader, why not head over there to check out what you can do to help that along.

The best selling plug-in for Canada to date is the Chevrolet Volt with ~4,400 sales, followed by the Tesla Model S (~2,550) and then the Nissan LEAF (~2,400).

Simon Fraser University

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13 Comments on "Study: Canadian EV Scene Needs Awareness Push From Government, More Models"

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Yeah, good luck with oil-soaked Harper.

We shouldn’t throw stones.

“Hillary’s Biggest Campaign Bundlers Are Fossil Fuel Lobbyists linked to Big Oil, natural gas and the Keystone pipeline.” HuffPost

If she’s the nominee, the Keystone pipeline gets built regardless of who wins.

We really didn’t need a Simon Fraser study to confirm what most of us EV drivers already know. I’ve said it before, we need a full on TV/Internet media campaign that champions all the positive features of EVs.
That would be great. However, supply is still crap. When I leased my 2015 Leaf last year, the sales person asked me to provide a list of colours by priority so he could hunt down a model. Also, they only had a 2012 model to test drive.
I’ve spoken to a number of people that were interested but their commutes were much too long for a BEV other than a Tesla.

Canadians like their SUV/CUV and they like their AWD. (Subaru does really well here in Canada, I’ve owned 2 myself)
Obviously the Volt does better here as it’s not as hampered by the massive drop in range during the winter as the Leaf is.

Another thing I’ve suggested when writing to the government is workplace charging incentives. There’s a twofold benefit. You can get an EV with less battery and still commute 100% on electricity. And the charging stations become free advertising for the EV community.

We need incentives for building owners to add in the charging stations, not only employers. The problem now is that often an employer is willing, but the owner will refuse to add the charging stations.

However I think that the carmakers need to pressure the dealership to become ambassadors. In Canada, there is only the Nissan Canada HQ that has L3, the rest only have a L2 station. Usually only one for the public, and only during business hours.

Not only that, but one of the dealerships in Montreal that actually put the chargers in a way that makes them accessible 24/7 decided to only power them when the service department is open…

If the ambassadors of a brand can’t even put in the effor to support EVs, then its going to be even harder to increase the market share.

Actually – the First L3 in Ontario was an Eaton CHAdeMO unit at the Mitsubishi HQ, just about 1 Km away from the Nissan HQ – both South of Toronto Pearson Airport; Next (last November) came the Dual CHAdeMO + CCS ABB unit at PowerSteam HQ up the Hwy 400! Coming soon is another L3 over at Warden & Hwy 7! Only 4 – compared to BC’s ~ 13 L3 Chargers!

Sorry – my fingers got ahead of my head – The Nissan QC was the Second and the PowerStream ABB unit – the 3rd!

EVs makes particularly good sense in BC, because of the huge hydroelectric resources — petroleum usage could be significantly reduced. Range is actually not as big a problem as one might think, since alrthough the province is large, most of it is unpopulated and most people are near Vancouver.

Ditto for Quebec, although the harsh winters might be more of an issue for range.

If there are no quick chargers at least along a few major routes across the county. It mentally bottles people in with EV range. People are going to look at the map and think I can’t drive there. But I can drive there in a gas car.

Jay – if you read the report more closely, you’ll see that they put a lot of thought into distinguishing between people who are aware of the technology and people that want it. What the 33% number means is that those people would like to have an EV, but not necessarily at the current prices, with the current model availability, and with current charging infrastructure. They then go in and analyze the relative importance of all the various factors that are preventing people from buying one now. It’s worth reading, these guys are very thorough and make sure they can backup their conclusions with real data.

I really don’t think tax credits are going to bail EVs out of being a background Nowhere product. In fact I think all tax credits do is cause the car dealers to jack up the prices. In that look what what happened to Georgia a lot of car dealers are cutting prices. Also another thing that is slaughtering EV’s is there are no bloody quick chargers in Canada. The quick chargers are only in two or three places in Canada. Also I don’t think I would want to get trapped in something that only has 60 miles of range and it’s -20F out and it runs out of juice and there are no quick chargers. I’m really starting to fail into a deep depression with how slowly the quick chargers are being built. I was expecting maybe three or four new quick chargers opening up every week in area as big as the United States and Canada and even Mexico. But nothing only one or two new quick chargers every three or four weeks. And what is fueling the depression is the quick chargers are still opening up in the same areas that are less then a hundred miles wide… Read more »

Well there’s about 15 BRCC, or DCFC as you call here, in Québec alone.
So you might feel less depress now.
One operator is currently managing 10 of them.;jsessionid=5FA8310E002A44098BF20B030E430ED1
But there’s 2 more offered by manufacturer of BRCC (borne de recharge à courant continu)
Elmec an Addenergi
And there’s another player Azra that as installed 4 BRCC and the number from all those player’s are growing.
The governement of Québec promise 50 at the end of 2016.
And Nissan also plan to add 25 in joint venture with other’s
They’re great and usefull.

“67% of Canadians aren’t familiar with today’s electric vehicles”

The U.S. percentage is, what, 90%?

Well, I think most Americans are at least familiar with Tesla.