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An Outlook on Electric Vehicles in Atlantic Canada

Wil Robertson's picture
Public Policy Thinker Independent Consultant

An analytical thinker, with a passion for promoting the sharing of our truths. Proud to further the causes of social acceptance, sustainability, and justice. 

  • Member since 2021
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  • Jul 26, 2021 3:45 pm GMT
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As climate targets become more ambitious, the automotive industry continues to innovate and adapt to provide more eco-friendly transportation options to consumers. In 2019, the transport sector was the second-largest source of GHG emissions, accounting for 25% (186 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) of total national emissions in Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, in the third quarter of 2020, 3.5% of total new vehicles registered in Canada were zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The vast majority of these being in Quebec, Ontario, and BC. Meanwhile, as of February 2020, my home province of New Brunswick had missed its target of putting 2500 electric vehicles on the road by 2020, only reaching a total of 646 registered EVs.

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            On July 8th, 2021, the Government of New Brunswick and NB Power announced a new rebate worth up to $5000 for those purchasing an electric vehicle. The rebate also allows for an extra $750 for those who purchase and install a level 2 home charging station. This rebate coincides with a new target of putting 20,000 electric vehicles on the road in NB by 2030. When used in tandem with the federal government’s iZEV program, buyers of electric vehicles in NB can save up to $10,000 on their purchase of an EV which qualifies for the incentive. This makes purchasing an electric vehicle more affordable and brings the price of many EVs down to a more competitive price point.

While progress has been made in putting more EVs on the road, more needs to be done. These financial incentives are a big step to making EVs more accessible to the broader public. Yet, critical infrastructure to make the use of EVs easier and more sensible is still lacking. NB Power says the province already has an extensive charging network with a fast-charging station located about every 63 kilometres on all major routes. There are 196 Level 2 chargers and 87 Level 3 DC fast chargers. While this may be the case, many of these chargers are only on major routes, and despite the numbers, they are still sparse in number. This lacking infrastructure makes the use of EVs incredibly difficult for New Brunswickers living in rural parts of the province. Charging can still take hours, and most chargers are still only at the occasional gas station or community building. This means that in all technicalities, the province is covered with enough chargers to make it possible to travel with an EV; in practical terms though, it is still incredibly difficult and time-consuming to travel with an EV due to charging. If more of NB Power’s 480 Volt Charging Stations can be installed across the province, and in more convenient locations, operating EVs would become much more sensible with a charging time of roughly 30 minutes as opposed to several hours.

            What must be said is that driving an electric vehicle is cheaper than driving a gas-powered vehicle. As an owner of an EV, you will benefit from lowered fuel costs, lower maintenance costs, reduced life-cycle costs, and the comfort of a lower environmental impact. This comes in addition to increased government rebate programs and the continuing expansion of the number of charging stations in NB. While there is certainly more progress that is needed in terms of infrastructure to make EVs more accessible to all New Brunswickers, the progress that is being made is certainly encouraging, for your bottom line and our environment. The future of EVs in New Brunswick is not certain by any means, but it remains bright.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 26, 2021

I'm curious if you're aware of any localized polling that highlights what the biggest impediments are. The typical stories are likely heard: high upfront cost, range anxiety, lack of visible public chargers, misunderstanding or lack of education, etc. etc. But are there any issues that weigh heavier on the minds of Atlantic Canadians than elsewhere, such as perhaps concerns about battery performance in cold weather? 

Wil Robertson's picture
Wil Robertson on Jul 27, 2021

The concerns about cold weather are not ones we've come across here, interestingly enough. As to polling, there has not been data collected on this question in particular. Often times the first concerns are of range and a lack of visible chargers. Also, the recent online reaction to these government announcements have faced a bit of backlash as folks see it as making vehicles more affordable to more affluent members of society who can buy more pricy EVs. 

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