Making Electric Vehicles Happen in Canada

In a recent article in the digital magazine Policy Options, Simon Fraser University Professor Jonn Axsen seeks to dismantle the popular narrative that electric vehicles will soon be commonplace on Canada’s streets.

“One of the most dangerous beliefs about the electric vehicle revolution is that it’s in the bag,” writes Axsen. “It’s not.”

Axsen argues that the success of electric vehicles to date is largely the result of a “patchwork of supportive policies” in place across Canada and around the globe, and points to the particular effectiveness of supply-focused policies that regulate or incentivize the suppliers of vehicles or fuels.

Axsen’s analysis is based on findings from Canada’s Electric Vehicle Policy Report Card, published by Simon Fraser University’s Sustainable Transportation Action Research Team and funded by Metcalf. The report found that no Canadian province is on track to substantially increase the rate of electric vehicle purchases by 2040 using their current and proposed slate of policies. In response, the report identifies a variety of effective policies that governments can combine to find the right balance of economic efficiency, equity, and political acceptability in their region.

“Canada will not shift to a sustainable zero-carbon transportation system without extensive and long-term policy support,” concludes Axsen. “[But] governments have proven options at their disposal that will get us where we need to go.”

Metcalf Foundation activities are continuing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about our response here.