Nearly two-thirds of Canadians and three-quarters of British Columbians would like to see electric vehicles supplant internal combustion as the mainstream choice for car buyers, according to opinion research released last week by Clean Energy Canada and Abacus Data.
“Around 72% of all respondents said they thought the shift would happen in 15 years or less—including 58% who see it happening within the next decade,” CBC reports. “More than two-thirds of British Columbians were in favour of investing money in electric car infrastructure, like charging stations, as well as offering rebates to encourage drivers to go green.”
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The two organizations released the data on the same day that Tamara Vrooman and Steven Guilbeault, co-chairs  of the federal Advisory Council on Climate Action, called  on Ottawa introduce a suite of electric and zero-emission vehicle incentives, including a $5,000 purchase rebate, vehicle sales targets for manufacturers, enabling infrastructure, research and development, and consumer awareness programs. The Globe and Mail says  funding for EV subsidies and new charging stations will be included when Finance Minister Bill Morneau tables his budget Tuesday.
“The desire to see electric cars eclipse gasoline-powered vehicles is stronger among younger people and outside Alberta, but even half of Albertans, 54% of the Silent Generation, and 46% of Conservative voters say they would like to see this happen,” Abacus adds . Already, “if they were buying a new car, more consumers would lean towards an electric vehicle, rather than a gas model. 10% say they are certain they would buy an electric vehicle, and another 14% say they are very likely to.”
“This sends a clear signal that car companies need to accelerate some of the plans they have to introduce new models of electric cars and, in particular, getting into minivans, SUVs, crossovers,” said Clean Energy Canada Policy Director Dan Woynillowicz, at a time when “many of the electric cars we’ve seen have been sedans or sports cars.”
CBC says the polling attributes the rise in public interest to a growing number of EV charging stations and faster charging times.
“The first electric car was invented before Ford’s Model T, and then growth in the technology stalled out for about 100 years,” said Abacus Data Chair Bruce Anderson. “But the confluence of concerns about climate change, air quality, and a sense that the technology is both greatly improved and more affordable suggest that the world may be poised for a remarkable acceleration of electric vehicles. Public policy can play a major role in the pace of this change—with charging infrastructure high up on the list of things that governments can do. Skepticism about electric vehicles may have been a good bet for the last 20 years, but skeptics may want to hedge that bet now.”