The Ontario government set a lofty goal for EV adoption by 2020. But despite country-leading incentives, as well as networks of charging stations and increased consumer education, a new report suggests that meeting the goal might not happen.
So far, the government incentives include $75 million in rebates to buyers including up to $14,000 on many EVs, building networks of chargers including 500 around the province and linking Ontario with Manitoba. The province also spent more than $1 million opening Plug'n Drive, an EV education centre. Despite that, electric vehicle sales made up less than one percent of all passenger vehicle sales in the province and The Canadian Press report says that sales will remain far from the five percent target.
Industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers told The Canadian Press that "the chances of meeting it aren't low, they're zero."
University of Windsor auto analyst Tony Faria agreed, saying that "we will almost assuredly get to five percent electric vehicles purchased or on the road at some point in time, it's just not going to be in the next couple of years."
So what's stopping people from moving to EVs? Range anxiety is still a concern. People have gotten used to the flexibility of gas, and a 500-charger network that isn't yet fully open isn't going to put an end to it. The Ontario government has taken steps to put more chargers in more public places, office buildings, and homes, but it will take years to build out the network.
When it comes to the government rebates, dealers are also running into issues. Frank Notte of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association said that dealers are waiting up to six months for reimbursement. He said that a single dealer is owed more than $400,000 and that GM dealers in the GTA alone are owed $2.3 million. The Ministry of Transportation told CP that they are working to fix the problem, but until it's fixed, the system is likely not popular on the sales floor.
Both DesRosiers and Faria think that EV numbers will rise, but that it will take longer than what the government has allowed. Once the charging network is in place, prices fall to closer to that of gas-powered cars, more people experience EVs through friends, neighbours, and education resources like Plug'n Drive, and as the choice of EVs expands, the cultural shift to electricity will gain speed.