Ontario’s approval this week of a new, multi-billion-dollar government fund to support the electric vehicle market is a timely move, from a government that has a history of shining a light on so-called green issues.
Ontario’s Environment Minister Rod Phillips is providing a $1.2 billion province-wide fund to support the purchase and sale of new electric vehicles. And more resources will come from each municipality.
The government also has a much larger goal – attracting 30% of all new car sales to electric vehicles by 2025. Much of the funding will go towards boosting the number of electric charging stations, and the vehicles themselves.
To meet that goal, the government will invest $300 million to help commercial drivers get the largest range possible in an electric vehicle, as well as increasing charging infrastructure in stores like coffee shops, hotels and transit stops.
Any commercial operator buying an electric vehicle, as well as any commercial customers who buy an electric vehicle, will qualify for both current and future funds.
It is an excellent move by the government and encouraging to both the environment and the tourism sector.
Of course, this is the kind of funding needed in all provinces. It is all part of the electric vehicle push that other provinces and governments have been eyeing.
Quebec recently approved the creation of a $600 million fund to support the expansion of electric vehicle charging. British Columbia is also planning to build a national charging network and the Ontario government will take charge of all the electricity that comes into the province as a result of these developments.
This year, Ontario announced a $100 million fund to upgrade charging stations.
“As Ontario continues to lead the way on sustainability, we’re also preparing to see major industry shifts in which a growing number of consumers choose electric vehicles to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Premier Doug Ford.
According to the province, the objective of its new fund is to cut carbon pollution. The number of new vehicles equipped with charging stations is expected to increase from just 300 in 2015 to 100,000 by 2022.
Ontario’s goals, though, are not easy to meet.
While Ontario will get a boost for EVs in the coming years, there still aren’t enough charging stations in the province to see a widespread take-up. Even with this new fund, there will be just a dozen major charging stations in the province.
It will also take time to get around the cars themselves. On average, a four-door vehicle can carry 400 kilograms of batteries.
So who is going to pay for all the infrastructure and incentives?
There are a number of factors that go into this.
The Ontario Automobile Dealers Association estimates that it will cost dealers and individual buyers $10,000 to up-front the cost of EVs and $60,000 for used electric vehicles.
The province says it expects municipalities and the insurance industry to step up, but notes it will cost them as well.
What about the tax revenue?
The province’s finance minister has promised that this funding will be offset, but says it will be paid back.
The number of new cars on the road will also help. According to the Environmental Defence report, 46% of all new cars sold in Canada in 2017 were electric. Electric vehicles sold in Ontario were up 239% year-over-year.
For certain communities, local governments have already been stepping up.
With the $2.5 million QMA Victoria Fund, Vancouver has already signed agreements with more than a dozen electric car companies. The fund will support EV charging stations, and educate households on how to make the switch to electric vehicles.
There will also be regular consultations with the public on the take-up of electric vehicles. They’ll want to know the hidden costs involved in spending money on EVs and the performance of the new vehicles. They’ll want to know what the long-term costs will be. They’ll want to know if they will give them a long-term boost in the tax revenues.
But the whole point is to put people to work and put money into their pockets.
Like all of the renewable energy investments in this province, the money invested will help make Ontario greener and more prosperous.
And if there’s any indication of success, the rest of the country will want to follow.
This piece is part of #MyOntario Series.