B.C. on front line of electric vehicle revolution

Sept. 13, 2010

VANCOUVER, B.C. - In just 20 years, one in every three vehicles on British Columbia's roads could be electric, according to a primer released by the Pembina Institute today, coinciding with the start of a four-day electric vehicle conference in Vancouver.

Pembina's primer explores the air quality and climate benefits of electric vehicles operated in B.C., as well as other hot topics, such as charging infrastructure and how the electricity grid can handle additional demand.

Pembina has concluded that if those one million electric vehicles were on the road today, oil demand would be reduced by about 12 million barrels per year - more than twice the amount of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico during BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster - and the province's greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by seven per cent.

"This puts British Columbians on the front line of a revolution poised to reduce the world's dependence on oil," said Katie Laufenberg, co-author of the primer and a policy analyst for the Pembina Institute. "Electric vehicles offer a tremendous opportunity to transition away from fossil fuels."

B.C. is one of the most promising jurisdictions in North America for the adoption of electric vehicles for five reasons:

1.   More than 93 per cent of the electricity generated in B.C. comes from renewable sources.

2.   British Columbians have switched to hybrid vehicles at double the rate of the Canadian average, indicating they are ready to adopt green technologies.

3.   About 95 per cent of all vehicle trips in B.C.'s urban areas are less than 30 kilometres - ideal for the battery electric vehicles coming to market in 2011, which can drive up to 160 kilometres on a single charge.

4.   B.C. has the most ambitious carbon tax in North America, which will make electric vehicles powered by renewable energy increasingly competitive as the tax increases.

5.   Local governments are implementing policies, enticing automakers and establishing partnerships to make B.C. a Canadian leader in electric vehicles.

"Electric vehicles operated in B.C. are a clear part of the solution to air quality concerns and climate pollution," Laufenberg said. 

A battery electric vehicle operated in B.C. will emit 80 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions in its lifetime than a conventional vehicle and will eliminate dangerous tailpipe pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and particulate matter, which cause smog and respiratory ailments.

"The future of electric vehicles is looking very promising, but we won't get there without governments continuing to implement policies to make sure the right infrastructure and incentives are in place," Laufenberg said. 

To that end, Pembina will be working with local governments in the Lower Mainland this fall to help identify key actions they can take to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.


The Pembina Institute is a non-partisan sustainable energy think tank.

Download: Electric Vehicle Primer


Katie Laufenberg
Researcher and Technical Analyst, Corporate Consulting Services
Pembina Institute
Phone: 604-724-7098


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