The EAC’s statement on federal Electric Vehicle Availability Standard

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The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) applauds the federal government for introducing an Electric Vehicle (EV) Availability Standard which will ensure that at least 20 per cent of new vehicles sold by 2026 are zero emission, increasing to 60 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2035. 

This regulation is an essential policy tool to reduce wait times for EVs in Canada by enabling a predictable supply. These standards also create investor certainty and a utility business case to deploy charging infrastructure, driving EV adoption and providing transportation options for Canadians searching for relief from spiking gas prices.  

Now it’s time for the Nova Scotia government to implement its provincial EV availability standard – passed into legislation in 2021 – to ensure Nova Scotia receives its fair share of EVs. 

Creating affordable transportation options for Atlantic Canadians 

While more Atlantic Canadians consider making the switch to EVs, the supply has been low because, for manufacturers, trucks and SUVs have substantially higher profit margins than EVs. This helps explain why, on average, the cars we drive in Canada have the highest fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per kilometer in the world.   

Automakers have historically compensated for lower profit margins on EVs by selling a limited number of luxury EVs. The new availability standard will force automakers to sell more affordable vehicle models. A recent analysis by Environmental Defense found that introducing availability standards would cut EV prices by 20 per cent. These potential benefits are compounded by the fact that EV owners can already expect to save more than $3,300 each year from lower fuel and maintenance costs. 

Reducing wait times through availability standards 

Without availability standards, Nova Scotians have experienced wait times for EVs stretching up to three years. Long wait times have dramatically slowed uptake of EV rebates in Nova Scotia: AllNovaScotia reported in March that nearly four times as many rebates' applications had been placed for e-bikes compared to electric vehicles.

Atlantic Canadians are demanding a solution. Polling conducted for the EAC by Abacus Data in 2022 revealed that 68 per cent of respondents reported that wait times made them less likely to consider buying an electric vehicle. The same polling revealed that 85 per cent of Atlantic Canadians support standards for EV availability. 

Creating investor certainty and a utility business case to deploy charging infrastructure 

While the presence of EV charging infrastructure is critical to adoption, certainty about EV adoption resulting from availability standards helps provide a business case for infrastructure investment. Private investors and utilities – both crucial to building robust charging networks – need a guaranteed and predictable supply of EVs to ensure that enough cars will be on the road to provide a return on charging infrastructure investment. Indeed, an EAC report released this year revealed that British Columbia – where an EV availability standard is in place – has more than four times as many fast-charging stations per vehicle than Nova Scotia, where an EV availability standard has been passed into legislation but not implemented. 

Rising provincial availability targets 

For years, high regulated sales targets for EVs in Quebec and B.C. have drawn vehicle supply away from smaller provinces without availability standards. In response to the announce of forthcoming federal availability standards, policy makers in Quebec and B.C. have moved to raise EV targets substantially higher than the federal standard – decisions which will perpetuate the problem of long wait times outside those provinces. Nova Scotia must immediately move to implement the Electric Vehicle Availability Standard passed in 2021 as part of the Sustainable Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act in order to reduce wait times and draw EV supply into Nova Scotia. A recent EAC report revealed that by implementing this regulation, Nova Scotia could put an additional 65,000 EVs on road by 2030 and achieve 5.2 Mt CO2eq of avoided emissions between 2022 and 2050. 

All Canadians should have the option of purchasing electric vehicles without enduring years-long wait times. The federal government’s decision to introduce an EV availability standard, following policy makers in B.C., Quebec, 17 U.S. states, the U.K., Korea and China should be applauded. Nova Scotia must immediately follow through on its commitment to implement an EV availability standard – a cornerstone of common-sense environmental policy. 

Media Contact: 

Thomas Arnason-McNeil 
Climate Policy Coordinator, Sustainable Transportation | Ecology Action Centre
(438) 938-8810

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