Canada’s Emerging EV Culture

Canada’s Emerging EV Culture
Canada’s Emerging EV Culture

In Canada, electric vehicle adoption is growing and as this growth happens, we are really starting to see the effect EVs are having on Canadian culture. Which EVs are top sellers, the impact of EVs on city grids, and commonalities about EV owners are all pieces of information we can use to predict and plan for the future of EVs in Canada.

General Overview

So far, 65% of the 3,300 highway-capable plug-in EVs sold in Canada have been plug-in hybrids. Currently, the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid is leading the pack, selling 1,971 cars since its release in 2011. In 2012, the Volt accounted for 1,225 of the 1827 EVs sold in Canada, while the Nissan Leaf sold 240, the i-MiEV sold 196, and the Tesla Model S sold 100.

These numbers may not seem incredibly high when you consider the number of people with gas fueled vehicles, but the growth is what we want to look at. Within the five top selling plug-in EVs, yearly car sales have grown 217% from 2011 to 2013 – and that’s only looking at 2013 sales until June!

Environmental Benefits

Over half of consumers, when asked, said that they would pay more in order to use environmentally friendly products. Because of this existing green culture, the higher price tag on EVs or hybrids isn’t necessarily considered to be negative. In fact, people who are considering purchasing a hybrid say that they are doing so for environmental benefits, fuel efficiency, and cost savings equally. (1)

Challenges in Mass EV Adoption

While eco-friendliness, fuel efficiency, and potential savings are all huge draws into the EV market, Canadians still have reservations about using exclusively EVs. Technology is continually improving for batteries, but the time it currently takes to charge and anxiety about limited range are two huge drawbacks.

Even Cara Clairman, president and CEO of Plug’n Drive (an EV advocacy group) says that she borrows her brother-in-law’s minivan for longer trips. “The thing about electric cars is we get a lot of questions about [range]. For a lot of people, it’s a second car. It’s really their urban/suburban car, and the second car does the long trip,” she says.

Canadians still need to learn more

The Canadian Automobile Association conducted a survey asking Canadians about their feelings towards EVs. What they found was that most (65%) don’t feel like they have enough knowledge about EVs to purchase one. Others said that they don’t think that EVs are as reliable as gas fueled vehicles and that the cost to own an EV is high.

The most likely Canadian EV owners are people living in British Columbia, where 45% say that they are likely to buy an EV, or at least consider it, when they make their next purchase. Residents of Quebec are the next in line, with 42%. Quebec drivers are, however, above the Canadian average (52%) when it comes to fear that they will be without electricity during their travels. 63% expressed this concern.

Overall, Canada’s existing move towards all things eco-friendly sets the country up for EV adoption. The main hurdle will be better EV battery technology and building enough charging stations so EV owners feel comfortable. “What you need public charging for isn’t so much to use it, but is to help people adopt the car. It’s like comfort,” says Clairman. The challenge is very “Chicken and Egg”, where business owners need demand to invest in charging stations, but the public won’t drive EVs without the infrastructure in place.

To sum the Canadian EV culture up, Clairman says, “What you need is some early movers who will put in some charging infrastructure to spur adoption, and the cycle begins.” (2)



Mark Marmer started in the trade back in 1973 and established Signature Electric in 1985. Having always enjoyed tinkering with electricity and working with his hands, the electrical trade was a natural choice for him. Working as an electrician you get a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at the end of each day.

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