Ontario and Electric Vehicles

Last updated 1999.02.15

EV Activity in Ontario

The federal government is doing nothing for the development of electric vehicles.

The provincial government's activity is limited to refunding the 8% provincial sales tax on the purchase of all alternate-fueled vehicles, which includes electric vehicles.

No municipalities are actively encouraging the use of electric vehicles. The City of Ottawa has even indicated that it would charge more to establish a parking space for an electric vehicle than it does for gasoline-powered vehicles.

Some electrical utilities have a token electric vehicle in their fleet for public relations purposes (but at least it is a start).

There are at least 5 volunteer organizations in Ontario dedicated to promoting the use of electric vehicles, and approximately a hundred individuals that are members of these organizations, which may have upwards of twenty privately-owned on-road electric vehicles in use.

The Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa sponsors an Electrathon event on an annual basis, and the Faculty of Education at Queen's University has hosted the Great Electric Car Race for several years.

Why Ontario Should Do More

Pollution in Ontario

Two separate studies have shown Ontario is the 3rd most-polluting jurisdiction in North America, after only Texas and Louisiana (1997 data).

Canada uses high-sulfur gasolines, and Ontario's has the highest sulfur content in all of Canada. This sulfur becomes sulfur-oxides when burned in internal combustion engines, a major component of air pollution.

Ontarians (and Canadians) are buying bigger vehicles again as gasoline prices remain at historical lows. North Americans are actually buying more pick-up trucks, minivans and sport-utility vehicles than cars in the late 1990's. Heavier vehicles use more fuel, and produce more pollution. On the plus side, Canadians do buy proportionately more small (economy) cars than Americans, possibly because higher gasoline taxes make gasoline relatively more expensive in Canada than in the U.S.

Air pollution is killing as many as 1,800 Ontarians a year, according to an Ontario Medical Association press release.

Economic Benefits


If we produce the electric vehicles (as we do with the Chrysler EPIC built in Windsor), then we will harvest the jobs when electric vehicles really come into their boom. Regardless of where the vehicles are built, the batteries will require raw materials to be built, and Ontario has substantial reserves of several of the candidate technologies including the current leader (lead), and the near future leading candidates (nickel, etc).

Big 3 figures say that it costs about $2,500 per vehicle built to meet current emissions regulations in North America. That cost will rise as emission controls become more stringent. If basic EVs were built in quantity (10,000 units per year or more), the entire drive train with batteries could be supplied for about that amount. In gasoline figures, the emission control cost does not include the engine or the conventional parts of the exhaust system. If clean air and affordable vehicles are among the goals, clearly gasoline engines are not part of the right answer.


The world will soon realize how much it needs pollution-free transportation technologies, not just in fair-weather climates like California, but everywhere. We all share the same atmosphere. If we are producing the vehicles, the batteries, the other components, then we will be able to sell them to the world in the coming years. We will also be able to sell expertise regarding the design and installation of infrastructure and support abroad - if we develop it here and prove we are capable in the field in time. Bombardier is producing its NEV in Quebec, with no intention of ever selling them in Canada - they are purely for export to warmer climates.

Health Care

Asthma is reaching epidemic proportions in Ontario. Its incidence is related to deteriorating air quality. Asthma is now the number one cause of hospital visits for children in Ontario. Reduce air pollution and the number of hospital visits by children will be reduced. Asthmatics will need less medication to treat their condition.

Air pollution is directly linked to hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiac acute care. Reduce air pollution and the number of people being hospitalized will also be reduced. Air pollution is killing thousands of Ontarians; reduce it and people will live longer.


As one of the highest-polluting jurisdictions in North America, Ontario needs to clean up its act. It costs far more to clean up than it does to prevent pollution. Pollution, the greenhouse effect and the heat released from the burning of fossil fuels all contribute to global climate change. Due to warming of some portions of the planet, and "global wettening" (the ability of warmer air to carry more moisture, and therefore more energy), weather systems will become more extreme as these climatic effects continue.

While Ontario Hydro is busy shutting down its nuclear plants in an apparent fit of pique, perhaps it should consider putting up more wind turbines like the Tacke 600 kW unit it has near the Bruce Nuclear plant to replace them. Electrical power without air or water pollution, and no spent fuel problem.


We market Ontario and Canada to the world as clean and natural places. Come see our rivers, lakes, forests, maple sugaries, autumn leaves in their splendour of colours, wildlife, fishing - the great outdoors at its best. What will we entice tourists with when all our lakes are dead from acid rain, the rivers and fish choked by algal blooms and chemicals, and the trees dying from air-borne particulates? The major common cause of our air and water pollution is hydro-carbon fuels burned in the internal combustion engines in our cars and trucks.

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