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Making the Switch: Electric Vehicle Advantages

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Making the Switch: Electric Vehicle Advantages

Transportation represents one of the largest challenges Ontario faces in achieving its emission reduction targets.

More than one-third of Ontario's greenhouse gas pollution is caused by the transportation sector, with cars and trucks responsible for more than 70 per cent of the total. Rail, marine, aviation and other off-road forms of transportation, such as mining and construction vehicles, make up the rest.

Today, about 11 million passenger and commercial vehicles regularly travel Ontario roads. Since 1990, vehicle emissions in this province have been rising steadily due to increased vehicle ownership, growing commuting distances and population growth. It's important that vehicle emissions be reduced. While the auto sector has made great strides in reducing per vehicle emissions, we need to do more to keep pace to meet international climate commitments or to avoid severe climate change. Working together, there are opportunities to do much more.

Federal emission standards, in addition to new fuel policies established under the Climate Change Action Plan, will help begin to address the annual increases in greenhouse gas pollution from passenger vehicles. But, in the long term, given Ontario's clean electricity system, and supported by Ontario's innovative auto sector, accelerating the shift to battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric and hydrogen vehicles will be crucial if Ontario is to achieve its climate change targets.

The action plan establishes a provincewide electric and hydrogen passenger vehicle sales target of five per cent in 2020. Instead of adopting a zero emission vehicle mandate with harsh penalties for manufacturers who do not sell enough electric and hydrogen cars, Ontario has chosen a collaborative approach in which all parties (government, industry, academia and not-for-profits) will play a role in helping to achieve the target. This target will be reviewed and increased appropriately every five years thereafter. For context, about 284,000 passenger vehicles were sold in Ontario in 2015. Five per cent of annual sales on that number represent about 14,000 vehicles.

This provincewide sales target, combined with a formalized engagement process with industry and other partners, will help the auto industry remain competitive while reducing the number of polluting vehicles on Ontario roads. It also supports Ontario's initiatives on automated vehicles, lightweight materials and other advanced automotive technology.

To help implement the provincewide sales target, the government plans to actively encourage each multi-car household to consider switching at least one vehicle to electric or hydrogen when they make their next purchase. Ontario will also encourage all new drivers to choose a zero emission vehicle when buying or leasing their first car. 

What is an electric vehicle?

An electric vehicle (EV) is any vehicle that is partially or entirely powered by electricity and plugs in to recharge. EVs build on proven hybrid technology and offer even greater reductions in fuel consumption and emissions than conventional hybrids. Here are some of the benefits of EVs versus conventional fossil fuel powered vehicles.

Cost: There are many affordable EV options in the marketplace and the energy costs of operating EVs are lower than for comparable gasoline-powered vehicles. That's because EVs are very energy efficient, use less (or no) fuel, and benefit from lower maintenance and operating costs. The Canadian non-profit Plug'n Drive estimates that driving an EV can save drivers more than $2,000 per year in fuel costs (these savings will depend upon what car you replace with electric). You can also take advantage of lower electricity rates when you charge at off-peak times such as overnight. The government is also establishing a free overnight charging program for EV drivers from 2017 to 2020

Comparison: Here are approximate annual energy costs in Ontario for some popular EV models, compared to those of similar-class gas powered vehicles.

VehicleEnergy Cost/100 km ($)*Energy Cost/Month ($)Type of VehicleGHG emissions per 100 km*
Typical Full-size Gasoline$9.86$164Internal Combustion17.8kg CO2e
Chevy Volt$3.26$54Plug-in Hybrid Electric (PHEV)3.4kg CO2e
Nissan Leaf$2.63$44Battery Electric (BEV)1.5kg CO2e

Based on 20,000km of travel per year; Lower maintenance cost savings associated with EVs not included.

*Plug'n Drive:  Average Energy Cost and CO2 Emitted to Drive 100 km in Ontario

Get where you need to go: Battery electric vehicles can typically travel at least 100 kilometres on a single charge, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can generally travel more than 500 kilometres using a combination of battery and gasoline engine technology. Since most single-trip journeys are under 50 kilometers, electric vehicles are more than capable of meeting most Ontarians' daily driving needs.

Cash back: When you buy or lease a green plate eligible electric vehicle, you can receive an incentive of up to $14,000. You may also receive an incentive of up to $1,000 for the purchase and installation of a Level 2 home charging station. Ontario will also work with the federal government to explore ways to eliminate the HST from new and used EVs by 2018.

Great perks: You get a green licence plate that identifies you as an EV owner and allows you to drive in all provincial high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, even with only one person in the vehicle, and will provide free access to high occupancy toll (HOT) toll lanes in the future. You'll also get free fuel under Ontario's overnight charging program between 2017 and 2020.

Recharge on the go: You can recharge your EV at home or at public charging locations. Under the Climate Change Action Plan, Ontario intends to invest an additional $80 million in workplace and multi-residential charging, in addition to building more public highway and downtown DC fast chargers. Charging will also be available at government locations including Service Ontario locations and LCBO stores.

EV-ready homes: By 2018, new homes in Ontario will come ready with a power outlet in their garages - like a stove plug - to help Ontarians avoid costly electrical retrofits in the future.

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