Analysis 2: Pledging to increase its percentage of renewable power to 50% is a poor strategy for Ontario and will harm its consumers.
Ford is right: Ontario has the right stuff to lead on electric vehicles
With so much focus on electric vehicles (EVs), it can be difficult to know what trends are truly happening. What’s really important, though, is to focus on what EVs will mean for the economy and energy policy in the future.
Across North America, the auto industry is moving from traditional gas-powered cars to EVs because of what EV vehicles can do for fuel savings. The difference between an electric and a gas-powered car that lasts nearly 15 years, for example, would pay for the cost of the new car within two years of purchase.
This is why it’s important to focus on EVs versus hybrids. Not only are EVs less polluting, they are also often cheaper. The monthly electricity bill for a car with a gasoline engine is roughly twice that of an EV, but if you’re moving from a gasoline car to an EV—or, in my experience, moving from a four-wheel drive vehicle to an EV—that EV will save you money, and it will save the environment too.
On average, an electric vehicle costs two and a half times less to own and run than a gas-powered car. The good news is that with average household income in Ontario around $77,500, two and a half times less to own and run an EV is a lot of money.
What’s more, Canada just had its strongest year for EV sales ever. More than 3,300 homes in Ontario ordered an EV in 2018 alone, and 28,000 new EV registrations were registered last year. Ontario has the largest number of registered EVs of any province or territory in the world. And while all electric vehicles (like hybrids) typically have much higher electric car prices than the equivalent gas-powered vehicles, the average EV in Ontario is actually the lowest cost in Canada and the fourth-cheapest in the world. So it can be relatively easy to achieve increased use of EVs in a province like Ontario, where, thanks to abundant green hydro, many EV buyers will simply be paying lower electricity bills.
Put simply, the EV revolution is here and it’s coming to Ontario.
Not only are Ontario families saving money on their electricity bills with EVs, businesses are saving money too, given the tremendous efficiencies of EVs. Tesla is known for its high efficiency in the manufacture of its cars, but this efficiency doesn’t just end with the final assembly of the car. The all-electric vehicles in its showrooms in Michigan are also equipped with heavy automation. As a result, they operate about 50% faster than gas-powered cars.
In short, by moving from the traditional gasoline engine to a simple battery and a motor, Ontario is swapping some of the drawbacks of traditional gas-powered engines for the upsides of a more eco-friendly future.
Think of the increased mobility provided by EVs and the potential to further lessen the impact on our carbon emissions. EVs use less energy than conventional vehicles and have a smaller carbon footprint. The answer to reducing Ontario’s carbon footprint isn’t on gasoline, it’s on electricity.
This is important because the future of Ontario isn’t on gasoline.
If we want to lead on climate change and address our environmental challenges, it’s time to turn our focus towards power. People increasingly understand that cars, not ships, plants, and farms are the biggest carbon producers in the world. As EVs dominate the future of transportation, it’s important to realize that this is really the future of our economy. As Ontario becomes a place where electricity is used by everybody, it becomes more important than ever to use electricity efficiently, and that’s what EVs will do.
Even in spite of selling more than a quarter million EVs since January 2017, the dominant focus of Ontario has been increasing gasoline taxes. But if Ontario is serious about serious about cutting emissions and reducing its carbon footprint, cars—not the taxes—will be the way forward.
Alexi Edwards is the executive director of the Canadian Automotive Policy Council and the former CEO of Navistar Canada. He was a senior energy and environmental advisor to Ontario’s former Energy Minister, Peter Bethlenfalvy.