The Canadian automotive market is witnessing a slow but steady transformation as more and more car buyers are becoming aware of green energy and its benefits. As a result of this growing awareness, the number of electric vehicle (EV) sales are progressively increasing year in and year out.
For instance, approximately 66,800 EVs were sold by Canadian dealerships in 2021. This was an increase of a whopping 42.5 percent compared to EV sales in 2020, which saw close to 47,000 units sold. Back in 2014, the country’s dealerships recorded around 5,200 EV sales.
It is the belief of experts that in future, EVs will take over the global automotive industry. While the transition will take time in Canada, it’s bound to benefit the country in the long run by resulting in energy savings and reduced emissions.
How do EV sales in Canada compare to sales of diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles?
In July 2022, Statistics Canada published the sales figures of new vehicles (inclusive of both gasoline-powered and electric vehicles) for the first quarter of the year. The numbers were surprising and suggested there were dips in the sales figures of both diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles.
While there was a decline of 11.8 percent in diesel-powered vehicle sales, gasoline-powered vehicles witnessed a 13.2 percent decline. During the same period, however, there was a 55 percent increase in ‘fully EV’ registrations. While most Canadian EV buyers are based in the major cities of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, their numbers are set to rise in the years to come.
Statistics also point to the possibility of Canada’s projected EV market volume rising to a whopping 11.82 billion USD by 2027. Projected market unit sales are set to skyrocket to over 194,000 vehicles by the same period.
The Canadian government’s stance on EVs
In 2020, the Canadian government made the decision to leverage the country’s lithium reserves in an attempt to position it as an EV leader on the global stage. Canada’s lithium reserves amount to around 4% of the global lithium reserves. Since then, billions of dollars worth of investments have come to the EV charger production and EV manufacturing sectors.
2.9 billion USD was earmarked for supply chain development in the domestic critical metals sector. EV market analysts and experts believe that the reason behind this move is to create an EV sector that’s commercially successful and more importantly, sustainable.
2022’s most significant government moves on the EV front
In May 2022, the country’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced that the government would be investing in a Stellantis project. The aim of the project is to make EV vehicle manufacturing and production more modern to increase efficiency. The Trudeau government also put a sales mandate in place for ensuring 100 percent of the sales of new light-duty vehicles are zero-emission vehicles by 2035.
In an official statement released by the government announcing the sales mandate, it said that the acceleration of the ZEV target would allow Canada to achieve its goal of net-zero emissions. According to the government’s forecast, as things stand and are progressing, the country is committed to making this goal a reality by 2050.
Challenges and skepticism
However, despite the enthusiasm and positivity among the Canadian government and EV advocates, the fact is that the path to a complete EV takeover is full of challenges. One of the greatest challenges is to tap into the country’s lithium reserves. Despite being home to 4 percent of the world’s lithium reserves, it’s difficult to source lithium in Canada. The reason for this is the remoteness and inaccessibility of the lithium reserves.
There is plenty of skepticism among would-be buyers as well. While KPMG research suggests that 68% of the Canadian population is leaning towards purchasing an EV when they next purchase a vehicle, there are doubts. Prime among them is the existing charging infrastructure, especially when it comes to long-distance travel in an EV.
The Trans-Canada Highway has the highest number of charging stations. However, during the harsh winters, drivers of EVs on the highway are likely to feel tense. This is due to the fact that in cold weather, the average EV battery range drops by around 25 percent. Additionally, there’s the logistical roadblock of setting up charging stations in crowded cities, where EV adoption has so far been the highest.
As it stands, the EV charging infrastructure comes nowhere close to the fueling infrastructure for gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. Until public and private investments enhance the country’s EV charging infrastructure, expecting mass adoption would be unrealistic.
Why EV cars should take over the Canadian automotive industry
All opportunities and challenges aside, it’s hard to see a future without mass EV adoption. Climate change is real, and a shift to EVs can signal a change for the better in terms of Canada’s role in reducing carbon emissions and global warming.
Fossil fuel extraction is not only harming the planet, but it’s also getting more expensive, which is directly impacting owners of diesel and gasoline-powered vehicles. EV advocates have put forward the argument that an average Canadian driver can save up to 2,000 USD on fuel driving 20,000 km in a year.
The durability and sophistication of EV motors are significantly better than that of internal combustion engines. Electric motors consist of single moving parts and they don’t need coolant flushes, oil changes, and exhaust systems. So, even on the maintenance front, EVs have more to offer than diesel and gas-powered vehicles.
Of course, there are environmental benefits on offer as well. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions and hazardous chemical production, EVs offer Canadian drivers the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprints by a whopping 90%. In the future, as solutions are crafted to charge EVs using green energy, i.e., renewable, natural energy sources, the carbon footprint reduction could be even greater.
The bottom line is that EVs still have a fair way to go to catch up to gas and diesel-powered vehicles in terms of popularity. However, despite the fact that the EV sector has a lot of catching up to do, it’s also true that the global demand for EVs is rising with every passing year. With more public and private investments, the sector is set to take over the automotive industry not only in Canada but around the world as well.