Ontario’s electric revolution, buzzing streets and zero-emission ambitions

Jan 25, 2024 | Biz/Tech, Canadian News, News

The push towards EVs is undeniable, as Ottawa announced an investment of up to $529 million in project funding for the Stellantis car manufacturer.

Ontario has seen a surge in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, driven by the federal government’s ambitious mandate to have all new light-duty vehicles sold in Canada be zero-emission by 2035.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who visited Stellantis’ new facilities in Windsor, Ont., said Canadian auto workers have been part of building a strong economy and will aim to make the country a global leader in electric vehicles.

The federal government said it aims to secure thousands of good-paying jobs by funding the modernization of its assembly plants, producing EVs, strengthening global EV supply chains, and cutting pollution to help fight climate change.

Electric sedans, coupes, and pickup trucks are becoming increasingly common on Ontario streets thanks to the $91 million investment from the Ontario government in 2022 as part of the EV ChargeON program.

The expansion in EV chargers across Ontario’s highway rest areas, carpool parking lots, and tourist destinations is a reflection of the accelerating shift towards EVs.

According to data released by S&P Global Mobility, registrations of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles rose to 8.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2023 from 7.2 per cent in the previous quarter.

This rise is fuelled by numerous factors, including government incentives like rebates of up to $5,000, savings on fuel, and charging infrastructure investments to make EVs more affordable and accessible.

Mary Mallin, a manager at Plug ‘N Drive, a non-profit organization promoting the use of EVs, praises the cost of upkeep.

“My car has a 75-kilowatt battery and it typically costs $7.50 to charge it completely,” she said. “This grants me a total range of 490 km and so I ask the question, how far can you go with $7.50 in gas?”

The shift towards going all-electric isn’t without challenges since range anxiety lingers for some, especially outside major urban centres where charging infrastructure is still developing.

Mallin said customers need to research where charging stations are located before heading out toward their destinations.

“You might end up having to install one or two different network apps on your phone to not only activate the chargers but also to pay. Some of them will allow you to pay with a credit card and others may not, so it’s essential for people to take this step,” she said.

Another hurdle that needs to be jumped is the upfront cost of an EV itself, which remains higher than its gasoline counterparts.

There is not a single new EV that currently costs under $30,000 Canadian, which is a high price to pay for the general population.

After the Doug Ford Progressive Conservative government cancelled all provincial rebates of up to $14,000 in 2018, anyone who now purchases a used EV will only receive a rebate of up to $2,000.

Abhinandan Rawat, a graduate of Seneca College who recently started working as a call desk manager for RBC in Mississauga, said the government should offer better incentives for students looking to buy an EV.

“The government should give better incentives or rebates to younger working professionals or students because it will allow them to not just gain further interest in EVs but also make them eligible to attain them easily,” he said.