Electric-vehicle sales in Canada grew by more than one third in the first half of this year but they are not keeping pace with the rest of the world.

A report on global EV sales released by research firm BloombergNEF at the United Nations climate talks in Egypt Thursday said battery-electric and plug-in hybrid passenger vehicles accounted for nearly one in every eight vehicles sold worldwide between January and June.

That compares with one in 11 in the same period a year earlier.

Total sales for the period hit 4.3 million, a 70 per cent increase over 2021. BloombergNEF says they're on track to hit 10.6 million vehicles by the end of December, which would be 61 per cent more than in 2021.

Between January and June, 56 per cent of global sales were made in China, 28 per cent in Europe and 11 per cent in the United States.

Canada, which accounted for about 1.5 per cent of all global vehicle sales, was home to less than one per cent of all electric vehicle sales.

The BloombergNEF report said Canada is among the countries "catching up" on electric vehicles.

Statistics Canada data show EVs made up one in 14 new vehicles registered in the first half of this year, compared with one in 20 a year earlier.

The sale of electric vehicles did hit a six-month record in Canada at nearly 56,000 sold this year, an increase of 35 per cent compared with the year before.

Canada falling behind as electric-vehicle sales pick up around the world. #CDNPoli #ElectricVehicles

But that is not on pace with the growth around the world.

Canada is aiming to have 60 per cent of all new vehicles be electric by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2035.

Based on average new vehicle registrations, the EV total would have to grow from 55,600 to about 480,000 over six months to hit that 60 per cent target.

Brian Kingston, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, said the lack of public charging is holding back Canadian demand.

"We are not currently a leader on EV readiness," he said in an interview.

"If Canada wants to be a leader and really accelerate EV adoption we have to take readiness seriously."

That view is backed by the annual electric-vehicle readiness index, published by global accounting firm EY, which this year listed Canada as 13th out of 14 countries measured.

A year ago Canada was 8th.

The EY report said charging infrastructure and the high cost of electric vehicles is holding Canada back.

The Canadian Automobile Association lists 80 models of battery-electric vehicles with an average price of $82,000.

Kingston said government rebates for EVs need to be higher. Canada offers up to $5,000 off the cost of EVs with a base price of no more than $55,000.

Quebec and British Columbia have provincial rebates that get layered on top of that, and advocates and experts say it's no accident that those are also the provinces with the highest sales.

B.C., where almost one in six vehicles registered between January and June was electric, is the only jurisdiction in Canada exceeding the global sales mark of 13 per cent.

Quebec follows at 11.4 per cent but there is a big drop-off to third-place Ontario, where 5.5 per cent of new vehicle registrations between January and June were electric.

Ontario had a rebate until 2018, after which sales slowed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 17, 2022.

Keep reading

Instead of subsidizing cars, we should charge consumers more for driving them.
Instead of enabling urban sprawl, we should price it out of existence.
Instead of encouraging consumers to increase their outsize ecological footprints, we should discourage personal extravagance and unsustainable lifestyles.

The Canadian Automobile Association lists 80 models of battery-electric vehicles with an average price of "$82,000."
Why give subsidies to affluent Canadians who don't need them?
EV rebates subsidize the rich — and keep non-drivers marginalized. An expensive and inefficient way to reduce emissions. Those $5,000 subsidies typically target one or two people in a household. Directing those dollars towards collective solutions will take us a lot further.
The affluent give no thought to transportation options for the marginalized. And they never will if we give them the easy out.

Transportation policy and investment focussed on cars abandons the marginalized — the poor, seniors, the handicapped, climate activists, etc. Depriving them of essential mobility options. Mass transit does not work without the masses.
EVs are the yuppie response to climate change. Not for nothing that most of the first EV models were luxury cars beyond the reach of most citizens. Who has $82,000 for transportation?
Wealthy progressives push for EV subsidies so they can salve their guilty conscience over their outsize footprint without having to make any real change in their unsustainable lifestyles.
If you give people EVs, they'll never get on the bus. Once middle- and upper-class consumers are happily ensconced in their automobiles, there is no shifting them. There is no incentive for governments to invest in and improve transit if the vast majority vote for cars and EV subsidies.

I didn't subsidize my neighbour's last car. Why should I subsidize his next one?
What's next? Should we pay his airfares, too? Buy him a private jet?
My neighbour didn't help pay for my bicycle, pull-cart, and backpack. I make greener transportation choices, but he's the one who gets the subsidy? No fair!

We have a choice. We can either invest in the private automobile, car culture, and sprawl. Or we can invest in the public good: transit, cycling, and cities built for people, not cars.
Sinking public dollars into private cars just slows public transit down — and puts the only sustainable solution out of reach. There is no evolution from more private cars and more sprawl to efficient public transit. More private cars and more sprawl do not enable efficient public transit at some future date — they make it impossible.
If the goal is efficient public transit, it is self-defeating to promote car use and enable sprawl.
The supply of tax dollars is not infinite. Scarce public dollars spent on private cars are dollars not spent on public transit, renewable energy infrastructure, transmission lines, storage, etc.

From an emissions perspective, subsidies for private automobiles are an extremely expensive way to reduce emissions. The same dollars invested in public transit give us a far bigger bang for our climate action buck.
"Subsidizing electric cars is inefficient and costly: report" (CP, Jun. 22, 2017)

"In Green Illusions Zehner pushes for govt to put more money into public transit projects that will affect many more people before backing EVs that he believes benefit only few. "If we're looking at ways to decrease the energy use in the U.S., building more walkable and bikeable villages and cities and towns of various sizes would be a better funding priority than subsidizing electric vehicles."

EV subsidies are the opposite of climate justice.
I support the use of tax dollars to support the vulnerable and marginalized Canadians — not middle- and upper class consumers who can afford their own cars and don't need subsidies. Handing out EV subsidies to wealthy people who don't need them while ignoring the transportation needs of people who cannot afford cars or choose not to drive is unjust.
I am all for public investment in public transit that incentivizes citizens to change. Free urban transit would be an excellent choice. Canada is desperately lacking in regional and national public transit options. That is where scarce tax dollars should flow.
Society has a choice: the public good — or private benefits for the few, while perpetuating the same ills that car culture has inflicted on society for decades.
Public transit in smart cities designed for people not cars is a public good. Public dollars for public goods.

If you want a car, feel free to buy an EV. OK with me. Just don't ask the rest of us to help pay for it, while public transit suffers and the marginalized go without.
Public dollars should not fund public infrastructure, not private automobiles.
We can either invest in the problem or in real solutions.
I vote for real solutions.

"A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It's where the rich use public transportation" – Gustavo Petro, Mayor of Bogotá