According to a recent study, interest in electric vehicles (EVs) is waning in Canada. Electric cars are known to lose efficiency in the frigid cold and pose a fire hazard when it doesn't snow.
Despite Parliament pushing EVs as part of its 'net-zero' agenda, Canadians are overall less likely to purchase an EV than last year.
According to the Canada Electric Vehicle Consideration Study, two-thirds (66%) of Canadians are either "very unlikely" or "somewhat unlikely" to purchase an electric car as their next vehicle — up 13% from last year.
"Despite current legislation pushing hard for EV adoption, consumers in Canada are still not sold on the idea of automotive electrification," said J.D. Ney, automotive practice director for J.D. Power Canada.
"Growing concerns about affordability and infrastructure [both from charging and electrical grid perspectives] have caused a significant decline in the number of consumers who see themselves in the market for an EV anytime soon."
On December 21, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault proposed that one-fifth of all passenger vehicles sold in Canada be electric by 2026.
Parliament has an ambitious target of 6 million more zero-emission passenger vehicles by the decade's end. Annual vehicle sales before COVID amounted to under 2 million units, with the total stock in Canada at about 23 million.
In the first half of 2022, fully-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales accounted for 7.2% of new car registrations, up from 5.2% in 2021. By 2030, Parliament hopes 60% of all vehicular sales will be EVs and, by 2035, every passenger vehicle.
At the end of 2022, EVs constituted 8.4% of new cars registered in the country.
However, the number of Canadians considering an electric car has decreased from 47% to 34%.
Unsurprisingly, EV consideration is at its lowest in the Prairies. Only 22% of people showed interest in purchasing 'green' transportation. Conversely, nearly half (46%) of British Columbians have considered getting an EV.
No federal agency to date has confirmed the total costs of the EV mandate, reported Blacklock's Reporter.
However, Environment Canada acknowledged that expenses include the "cost of retraining mechanics," higher accident insurance premiums for electrics that "tend to be heavier due to the weight of batteries on board," and lost profits for "gas stations with attached convenience stores."
According to J.D. Power, 63% expressed concerns with range, while 59% were concerned with price. Another 55% voiced their issues with limited charging stations.
In February, Seattle-based Recurrent measured range loss in 7,000 EVs at temperatures between -7°C and -1°C. They learned the Volkswagen (VW) ID.4 lost 30% of its battery at those temperatures.
Recurrent's findings pose credible concerns about Canada reaching the 2035 target and interim targets in 2026 and 2030.
Researcher Liz Najmam said the energy needed to heat the EV's cabin during the winter depletes its range. Their higher efficiency relative to gas vehicles prevents them from using wasted heat to warm up the cabin and maintain passenger comfort.
"Gasoline engines are super inefficient, and so they create all of this waste heat," said Najman, whereas EVs generate heat in other ways.
In addition, EVs may pose a fire hazard owing to their lithium batteries.
"In Canada, since there is no national database on fires and most provinces don't track whether vehicle fires involve electrics, the number of fires of electric vehicles cannot be reported," said the study Literature Review On Parking Of Electric Vehicles.
"Most of the reported fires in garages are in parking structures attached to apartment buildings," wrote analysts. The National Resource Council cited anecdotal references to electric car fires, including a 2018 blaze at a Niagara Falls casino parking lot and a 2022 fire in an underground parkade in Québec City.
Though researchers contend EVs present a "greener solution" to internal combustion vehicle engines, their lithium-ion battery propulsion system poses a fire safety concern.
"Vehicles are active during charging, which poses a hazard in garages," they said. "Although large vehicle fires in parking structures are uncommon, they might lead to large economic losses."
According to Blacklock's Reporter, the Department of Transport 2015 banned bulk shipments of lithium batteries aboard passenger aircraft. The International Civil Aviation Organization also recommended a similar ban in 2013.
Ney added, "It will take significant investment and close collaboration between manufacturers and lawmakers to address overall affordability, capability and infrastructure issues before Canada can reach its national and provincial EV sales targets."
Brian Kingston, president and CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, cautioned that the federal government should build the necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles before regulating sales.
He said Canada's infrastructure needs to be on track to support a growing fleet and those who drive the cars.
"The vehicles are coming, but we need a supercharged effort to help marketers make that purchase and make it easy, convenient, and accessible."
On March 13, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced a VW battery factory in Ontario, claiming it would create thousands of jobs.
The $13.9 billion project — funded entirely by taxpayers — exceeded the budget three months after the initial announcement. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), the factory now costs $16.3 billion, amounting to $5.4 million a job.