Federal government urged to develop plan for more EV charging stations

Electric car charging station (CTV News)

The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association is calling on the federal government to be more ambitious and co-ordinated in its approach to electric vehicle charging.

If it isn't, the CVMA says it won't get as many people into battery-powered cars as it wants to by the end of this decade.

The CVMA, which represents Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, is issuing a list of recommendations to Ottawa warning that EV adoption isn't going to happen if Canadians don't have confidence in the network of charging stations available.

According to the CVMA, Canada has about 16,000 charging ports in 6,800 locations, with 90 per cent of them in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.

Brian Kingston, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, told AM800's The Shift with Patty Handysides that charging is one of the largest barriers to zero emission vehicles (ZEV), electric vehicle (EV) adoption.

Kingston says  they don't see the federal government undertaking a detailed analysis of their needs.

"If you look at other ZEV jurisdictions around the world, the UK, Germany, even the State of California, they undertake really detailed assessments of what will be necessary to support a fully electrified fleet," he says. "In some instances, right down to where you're going to need charging capabilities on a postal code basis."

To prepare Canada for a ZEV future, CVMA recommends the following actions be taken:

1) The federal government determines the charging infrastructure required for Canada to support achievement of its ZEV sales goals.

2) The federal government coordinates key stakeholders to assess the barriers and develop detailed solutions and actions to establish ZEV charging in multi-unit residential buildings and for garage orphans.

3) The federal government coordinates with utilities to ensure that as ZEV adoption increases there is an appropriate level of clean, affordable, and reliable electricity generation and associated grid infrastructure in place to support charging infrastructure.

4) The federal government establishes a ZEV charging infrastructure advisory body composed of automakers, charging infrastructure companies, provinces, municipalities, and utilities to provide advice on charging needs, technology developments and the linkage to  Canada’s ZEV sales targets. 

Kingston says we have to understand where we're going to see ZEV or EV uptake

"We just don't have enough ambition in terms of how many chargers the government wants to build. The federal government said 50,000 in the last budget. If you look at a place like California with a similar target for the number of EVs on the road, they're looking to build 715,000 charging stations, so we've got a huge gap to fill," he says.

Kingston says that if we don't build it and Canadians have issues with waiting to charge their vehicles, that a worse case scenario.

He says we're seeing automakers put billions of dollars into this technology, $13.5-billion alone from Ford, General Motors and Stellantis over the past 18 months.

"There's a big shift underway, we've got to get this right. The last thing we want to see is frustrated consumers, who either weren't able to install a charger at home or were lined up for 45 minutes on a highway and switched back to gas. That is not a good outcome for anybody," he adds.

Jeff Turner, a senior researcher at Dunsky Energy and Climate Advisors, says a new analysis on EV charging needs done for Natural Resources Canada shows 50,000 chargers is adequate for 2025, and that we'll need about 200,000 by 2030.