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New survey results released by the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA) underscore that more needs to be done at a national level to convince Canadians to purchase electric vehicles (EVs).

The survey, conducted by Leger for the CVMA and Global Automakers of Canada (GAC), offers insights into the barriers to consumer adoption of EVs in Canada – and the survey found the key areas include consumer EV purchase incentives, expanding accessible EV charging stations and educating Canadians on the benefits of owning an EV.

Frankly, we couldn’t agree more because this is the precise approach we adopted more than ten years ago, when the New Car Dealers Association of BC (NCDA) established a partnership with the provincial government, through which the Association has administered the program on government’s behalf.

There is no doubt that this model has been effective and is a significant factor in BC assuming a leadership role in North America with respect to EV adoption. Through the CleanBC Go Electric rebate program, there has been a gradual increase since the program’s inception in 2011, a year in which a modest total of 57 transactions occurred. Over the past ten years, there has been a total of almost 38,000 transactions, which represents more than 70% of all electric vehicles on BC roadways today.

The BC approach has served to help bridge the price cap for new electric vehicles, making them more affordable for consumers. We have seen significant policy development and investments in charging infrastructure and rebates to address the cost of charging stations for homes and workplaces. In this province, we have also placed a focus on education, so consumers are better informed about the latest brands and technological advancements.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. If the trend is to continue, there needs to be ongoing dedication by all levels of government to fuel this transition. At the municipal level as an example, local governments can proactively add EVs to their fleets, and adjust building regulations to ensure new housing and workplace developments are prewired, and ready-made for charging infrastructure.

At a national level it is clear that a more focused and collaborative approach is required to ensure there is a level of consistency and certainty for drivers of electric vehicles or those contemplating the purchase of an EV.

According to the poll, the top reasons Canadians cited for not purchasing an EV are limited driving range (55%), higher purchase price (54%), a lack of public charging infrastructure (47%), and the time required to charge (45%). Three-quarters of respondents noted concerns with EV driving ranges and lengthy charging time when travelling. Another 57% do not know where or how to access vehicle charging at their home.

The survey also found that EV consumer education remains a significant barrier to widespread adoption with only two-in-ten Canadian’s feeling they have done sufficient research on EVs. Only 4% of respondents were aware of the number of EVs currently available in Canada (its 41 by the way), and just 38% of consumers are aware that the government has a consumer EV purchase rebate of up to $5,000 available.

With more than 130 new electric vehicles expected to enter the Canadian market in the next few years, there is an opportunity for governments to fuel EV adoption – and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The BC approach is one that serves as a very successful blueprint.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected]