A year and a half year ago, before the pandemic threw a wrench into car-buying altogether, electric vehicle sales in Alberta were lagging, and not necessarily because of lack of interest. An August 2019 CBC.ca article titled, “Want to buy an EV? Slow down there, we’re in Alberta,” states that at the time there were only 2,200 electric vehicles in Alberta out of more than 100,000 nation-wide. That represents only 2% of the total electric vehicle ownership in Canada while numbering more than 12% of the population. To add further context, in the first five months of the same year 92,000 regular gas-powered vehicles sold in the province.
In comparison, B.C., which has a similar population size to Alberta, has 12,000 electric vehicles.
The CBC article points to a few reasons for why electric vehicles in Alberta just don’t seem to be catching on, with the main one being simple lack of availability. They are not common on dealership lots, meaning in many cases consumers interested in purchasing an electric vehicle have to do it sight unseen, ordering their vehicle to be delivered to them without even had the opportunity to drive it.
Electric vehicle manufacturers don’t feel it’s worth it to send many to this area, and there are no quota regulations to force them to. As companies continue to lose a small amount of money on each electric vehicle sale they make, they are concentrating on areas where they are more than likely going to generate a larger amount of sales.
Federal incentives for buying an electric vehicle
Some believe another reason electric vehicles in Alberta are not that common is because of lack of government incentives. The federal government offers incentives to purchase an electric vehicle across the country (around $5,000), and a couple provinces top that up with their own (B.C. residents may receive up to $3,000 in additional rebates, and Quebec residents up to $8,000). Alberta offers none, however, which experts say is essential to help offset the additional cost of an electric vehicle. In the case of the Nissan Leaf versus the Nissan Versa, the difference is a substantial $30,000.
The federal government’s zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) program was put in place to encourage the purchase of battery-electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in an effort to combat emissions from transportation, which are the second largest source of greenhouse gases in Canada. To access the program, a claim for payment must be made by the dealership. Vehicles that were purchased or leased on or after May 1, 2019, are still eligible to apply.
What more incentive do Alberta drivers need?
While growth may be slow, electric vehicle sales are on the rise, says the Calgary Herald. To really boost interest in electric vehicles in Alberta, drivers still require more infrastructure, says Jim Steil, co-owner of Go Electric. He says that in addition to incentives, drivers need more charging stations, especially on the highways. A low-end average distance an electric vehicle can travel is about 160 kilometres per charge, meaning getting to and from work and running errands shouldn’t be a problem, but you’re going to have to stop and plug in at least once on the way to Edmonton. Located in Calgary, Go Electric is a used electric vehicle dealership and has a wide range of inventory.
The Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta is also working to advocate for the growth of the use of electric vehicles in the province by creating a community and dialoguing with various levels of governments to consolidate information all in one place. As it is so difficult to find an electric vehicle to even test drive, members will often offer up one of their own.
Tesla, however, is a notable exception. The electric vehicle giant is here and is prioritizing Alberta, with a location found in southeast Calgary. Their Model 3 was the number-one selling electric car in Canada in 2019.
Myths about electric vehicles
There are several common myths about electric vehicles that may be causing some to not want to delve into the market at this time. Some of those include that electric vehicles don’t work well in the cold, and owning one will cause your energy bills to skyrocket. The truth is that electric vehicles do lose efficiency in the winter, but so do gas-powered vehicles, and charging an electric vehicle costs less than $2 in most cases.
Can an electric vehicle earn me a discount on my insurance?
As experienced car insurance brokers, we at Lane’s are able to offer several different options for your coverage. Some car insurance providers offer what is called a Green Vehicle Discount, which can save you about 5% on your premiums. In addition, most electric vehicles have what is called an automatic emergency braking system, which could earn you an additional discount.
Insurance brokers are your ally in the insurance business. It’s our job to find you the best car insurance coverage at the very best rates out there. Give us a call at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton, or greater Alberta offices to see what we can do for you.