While Canada’s electric vehicle strategy is still to come, China is leading the revolution

Monday, January 8, 2018

Source: Province of British Columbia (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


A record two million cars were purchased by Canadians in 2017! Sadly, less than 1% among them were electric vehicles (EV - battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars). In contrast, in China - the largest market for auto makers - sales of EV are about to reach the 3% market share. In 2017 alone, over 500 000 electric vehicles were sold. As explained in this article, China is dominating Canada when it comes to electric cars. This might come as a surprise considering that only 4 years ago, Canada’s market share of electric cars was twice as much as China’s[1]. So what happened over the last few years?

One of the main contrasts between both countries is government determination and support towards an electric car future. Stronger government support and higher incentives observed in China have been widening the gaps. Only some provinces such as Quebec, Ontario and B.C. have already had some success with cash incentives, where a higher market share of EVs is evident. The fact that 97% of all Canada’s EV sales are taking place in these three provinces is a proof of that.

Meanwhile, in Norway, electric and hybrid vehicles (EVs) accounted for more than the half of all new cars sold in 2017! With government incentives such as tax exemptions and free parking among other privileges, Norway is making EV purchase prices more competitive and attractive for buyers.

On the other hand, China is setting the bar high by increasing electric vehicle (EV) quotas for all foreign and domestic manufacturers from 8% this year up to 20% by 2025. In addition, China limits manufacturers to sell cars with an average fuel consumption of 5L/100km by 2020. This is currently putting pressure on American and European car manufacturers and providing local EV manufacturers with an important advantage in the marketplace. On top of that, China has recently extended its 10% tax deduction for EV for three more years, until the end of 2020. It does not come as a surprise that the BAIC EC-Series, the world’s best-selling electric car in 2017, is the first plug-in to reach the top 25 position in China.

Nonetheless, small steps are slowly being taken in Canada, such as in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, where all new apartments and condominiums are now required to be ready for plug-in vehicles. The Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) strategy, to be announced early 2018 by the Canadian government, will seek to strengthen its position and be more in line with their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) targets.