Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station
Canadian electric-vehicle policy seems to be enjoying its own annus mirabilis, or "wonderful year," during 2016.
While "a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step," plug-in proponents could be forgiven for wanting to advance more than a step at a time.
Here, then, are a half-dozen recent examples from north of the 49th Parallel.
1. Quebec affirms ZEV plans
During December's Paris climate conference, the government of Quebec affirmed its intent to create a California-style zero-emission vehicle mandate in the province by 2019. (The link is in French, but Google Translate suffices.)
Strategy for electrifying transportation, Province of Quebec, Oct 2013
Talk is cheap in politics, particularly for legislation as potentially contentious as a ZEV mandate. But it's worth noting that the province does not have any automotive assembly plants that could skew its economic interests.
Quebec has also committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the development of a technology cluster around electrified transportation, and is served by a public utility (Hydro-Quebec) keenly interested in boosting its revenues through increased electricity sales.
So if Ontario, stuffed with plants making old-fashioned vehicles with internal-combustion engines, is the least likely Canadian province to implement a zero-emission vehicle mandate, Quebec would surely be the most.
2. Ontario strengthens incentives...
The province of Ontario recently raised its purchase rebates for plug-in electric cars (summarized here), and vehicle registrations should allow analysts to estimate the policy's impact on its plug-in electric vehicle sales during the coming months.
Effect of electric-car purchase incentives on Tesla Model S sales in B.C. vs Ontario and Quebec
This week, the province's right-leaning opposition party (the Progressive Conservatives) predictably denounced the government's efforts to institute a cap-and-trade system to put a price on carbon emissions. Surprisingly, the party argued for a revenue-neutral carbon tax instead.
Carbon pricing wouldn't materially impact electric-vehicle drivers, as nuclear and hydroelectricity provide more than 80 percent of Ontario's electricity.
But the Progressive Conservatives' decision to pivot left and embrace carbon pricing may suggest a willingness to continue some form of electric-vehicle policy support, if the party should come to form the next government.
3. ...as does British Columbia
British Columbia too renewed its plug-in electric vehicle policy, just this past week.
Sun Country Highway electric-car charging station, Burnaby, BC, Canada [photo: Matthew Klippenstein]
Premier Christy Clark announced a further funding allocation for the existing purchase-rebate program of C$2,500 to C$5,000. The province would also seek to purchase or lease plug-in electric vehicles, where suitable, for the government fleet.
The rebates are now capped based on the manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price, or MSRP, with vehicles costing more than C$77,000 no longer qualifying.
You can be forgiven for calling this the "Tesla clause," although it also affects the Porsche Cayenne S-E Hybrid, Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid, BMW i8, and future Mercedes S 550e. The base Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid may just barely come in under this threshold, according to early indications.
More importantly, plug-in electric vehicles will now qualify for single-occupant access to carpool lanes. That's a potentially major selling point, since Vancouver is alleged to have the worst traffic in Canada.
Vehicle registration data in the coming months may allow us to estimate how much value Vancouver-area new car buyers place on faster commutes.