Will 2023 be the year of the electric car?

By James Walker
Close-up of an electric car charging. Why 2023 will the year of the electric car.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are, at this point, inevitable. The tide is turning and the behemoth international automotive industry is shifting its weight behind battery powered cars. There are a few outliers, like Porsche's biofuels projects and Toyota's hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, but for the most part, our next generation of new cars will be battery-electric. How quickly the transition happens and what it means for our planet remains to be seen.

Ultimately the sustainability of electric cars hinges on far more than not producing tailpipe emissions, but governments making electric automobiles more affordable to buy and own is a big step in the right direction.

Electric cars in Canada

Sales of electric vehicles grew by almost 60% in 2021 to a total of around 86,000 vehicles spanning small electric cars, electric luxury cars, electric sports cars and the AWD electric SUV, up from around 54,000 the year before. The trend continued in the first half of 2022 as well, with rebate-applicable electric vehicle sales increasing by a further 11%.

Top sellers included the Volkswagen ID.4, Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona Electric and the funky Hyundai Ioniq 5 which comes as no surprise considering that Clean Energy Canada estimates the cost of owning an EV is significantly less than owning a gas-powered equivalent. For example, the Hyundai Kona Electric comes in EV and gas-powered variants. Clean Energy Canada calculated that over eight years of ownership driving 20,000 km per year the cost of the EV version comes in at $49,700 versus $60,200 for the gas car.

Find out how much it costs and how long it takes to charge an electric car in Canada.

Government EV incentives

To help speed EV adoption, federal and provincial governments offer a range of incentives and programs such as the federal government's pledge to install charging infrastructure across the country. The federal government will also provide you with up to $5,000 towards the price of battery powered cars with MSRPs under $55,000 or an SUV, pickup or van priced at $60,000.

Provincial governments also provide rebate incentives, with BC's Go Electric program offering up to a further $4,000 for qualifying vehicles. Ontario will kick in another $1,000 while Quebec gives up to $8,000 in rebate discounts on vehicles under $60,000. Maritime provinces also get generous rebates with up to $5,000 available in New Brunswick, $3,000 in Nova Scotia and $5,000 in P.E.I. which includes a free Level 2 home charger.

Woman controlling electric car with a digital dashboard switching autopilot mode, close-up on a touchscreen with launched program. Why 2023 will be the year of the electric car.

rh2010 - stock.adobe.com

Infrastructure will be crucial to Canadian EV adoption because there isn't currently much to speak of, drastically limiting electric vehicles for long-distance travel across our vast nation. That said, the revolution is certainly coming with Kijiji Autos searches for electric vehicles more than doubling from the second quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2022, and the number of leads on electric vehicles has gone up 194%.

Automakers are getting involved in Canada's push toward an electric future with Honda, GM, Ford and Stellantis (parent company of Fiat, Chrysler and many other brands) all pledging billions of dollars to retool their Canadian operations for EV battery and vehicle production. Newcomers Rivian and VinFast are scheduled to start Canadian deliveries towards the end of 2022 giving buyers more variety in electric pickups and SUVs. Electric vehicles are projected to make up nearly 16% of new vehicle registrations by the end of 2026.

Electric vehicles and sustainability

While the cost of owning an electric vehicle may be lower compared to an internal combustion car, the environmental impact isn't as different as we may assume. As being green is such a cornerstone of the electric car's image it's important to question where it all comes from, how it's powered, and the effect it has on our planet.

Like any industry, producing electric cars uses raw materials and creates pollution. Mining lithium for batteries is certainly not an all-clean process, nor is getting our hands on the steel that each car is built from. The source of the electricity that goes into all those batteries is equally as important. Burning coal to make energy for green cars is an exercise in futility, but with more of the juice coming from renewable sources, we're really getting somewhere.

Canada's good for this, producing around 60% of its electricity from hydro power followed by 15% from nuclear, 11% from natural gas and 7% from coal. For contrast, the US produces just 11% of its electricity from renewables.

What affects EV environmental sustainability?

Energy production aside, there are a few factors that you could control when buying a new EV if you want to be as kind to the planet as possible.

Vehicle mass

Bigger vehicles take more energy to move around. Buyers love crossovers and SUVs these days, but if you want to help enhance sustainability you should consider compact electric car, which generates less aerodynamic drag. Crossovers are often just tall hatchbacks anyway, so you'll be getting essentially the same vehicle but with a longer range and more enjoyable handling.

Usage conditions

Driving in cities and in stop-start traffic zaps efficiency because the hardest your car has to work is when it's getting itself up to speed from a standstill. Once it's there keeping things moving only takes a fraction of that energy. If you can time your drives to avoid heavy traffic you could go much further on a charge.

There's always an environmental cost for any large-scale operations. While they may not currently be as green as we've been led to believe, EVs are more efficient at using the energy that goes into them than ICE vehicles. Whether you're in it for sustainability or simply for the rebates, electric vehicles will become more and more ubiquitous in the coming years.

Once Canada's charging infrastructure catches up things will really take off. They're going to have to because after 2035, sales of internal combustion cars will end altogether. The next 12 months will likely see EV sales rise once more, but the internal combustion engine's not finished yet, and Kijiji Autos has a huge selection of both along with diesel, hybrid and PHEV rides for you to peruse. Start your search for a new vehicle with Kijiji Autos today.

James Walker is a motoring writer with a love of all cars fast and slow. Old or new, exotic or cheap, if it's on wheels and has a story he wants to tell you about it.

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