Grading Canada's Progress In Plug-In Electric Cars So Far Page 2

2012 Nissan Leaf in the autumn outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada [photo: Ricardo Borba]

2012 Nissan Leaf in the autumn outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada [photo: Ricardo Borba]

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6. Employers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations, and car-sharing and rental companies should increase opportunities for Canadians to try out electric vehicles.

As of September 2012, only 28 percent of Canadians believed that electric vehicles were (or, were nearly) viable.

One hopes that when WWF does follow-up polling next year, they'll see a large improvement--especially given the accolades Tesla has garnered, and the Chevy Volt's continued Consumer Reports success.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

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7. More dealerships should have EVs available for customers to test drive, supported by salespeople knowledgeable about EVs.

While the growing selection of electric vehicles in Canada should improve adoption–we're slowly moving toward the stage where there's "a plug-in for every purse and purpose" -electric vehicles still face an uphill challenge when it comes to the sales process.

Dealerships stock high-volume cars in a dozen colors and trim combinations, to give themselves the best chance of having a customer's desired configuration on-hand.

But with modest sales of electric vehicle sales, dealers are more likely to keep only a token plug-in on the lot. If it isn't exactly what the prospective buyer is looking for, salespeople will likely be tempted to steer them into gasoline vehicles they can sell today.

WWF's efforts in this regard should be aided by a recent initiative by the Canadian Electricity Association and the electric car advocacy group Plug-n-Drive. Their recently-announced electric-vehicle dealership awards program will recognize plug-in-friendly dealerships, and disseminate the lessons of their success.

8. Provincial governments should set targets and introduce plans to increase renewable electricity generation.

9. Manufacturers should have a stewardship system in place to collect, reuse, and recycle batteries from electric cars as they reach their end of life.

Because most of Canada's electricity comes from hydroelectric power, electrics prove considerably cleaner than their combustion cousins over the vehicle's entire service life. While celebrating this, WWF Canada urges provincial governments to continue building out renewable energy, and reduce or retire use of fossil fuels.

As for the private sector, it urges manufacturers to consider options for battery reuse and recycling. Fortunately, automakers have been doing so for the past few years.

Given that conventional car batteries are the most recycled product on the planet--and plug-in batteries will have secondary value for energy storage even after their automotive life--the future looks relatively bright on this front.


While electric-vehicle market share in Canada remains a shadow of the levels achieved in the United States (let alone Norway), there are reasons to believe adoption rates will accelerate.

While Canada's Federal government continues to ignore the sector, provinces with foresight have introduced supportive policies, with Quebec especially just having committed to redouble its efforts.

Continued efforts by automakers to introduce new models and pass cost reductions through to consumers should broaden the addressable market electric vehicles can serve, after than an admittedly slower-than-expected start.


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