Preparing for more electric vehicles to hit Prairie roads

More and more electric vehicles can be seen out on the roads. But are Manitoba and Saskatchewan ready for the transition?

Our first story of the New Year is about how Saskatchewan and Manitoba are preparing for the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), which has already begun.

I’m starting to spot more and more EVs when I’m out and about, even in rural areas. This fall, I saw a Tesla in a parking lot in Lashburn, Saskatchewan, about a 35-minute drive east of Lloydminster along Hwy 16. The car was plugged into a regular outlet using an adaptor. 

And if you’ve been to the Moose Jaw mall lately, you’ll see a bank of Tesla chargers in the parking lot.

My local mechanic shop uses the electric GM Bolt for its shuttle car. 

If you look at plugshare.com, you’ll see a surprising number of places to charge your EV in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Way more than I would have thought.

However, as you will find out as you read our series on EVs, the type of charger matters because some are hours faster than others, which can make a big difference in how long your cross-country road trip could take.

The biggest complaint we heard from talking to EV drivers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is the lack of fast chargers across the provinces. There needs to be more, but who will pay for them? The federal government? The provincial government? Municipalities? Private industry?

Tesla, Petro Canada, and Co-op have and continue to install some charging stations, but more must be done, EV enthusiasts say. Governments are reluctant to pay for them because public dollars don’t go towards building the gas stations we use to fuel our vehicles, so why should they pay for EV charging stations?

But others say if the government(s) are serious about reducing our collective carbon footprint, they must incentivize the transition to EVs, which, as you’ll find out in this week’s issue of The Flatlander, some provinces are doing better than others.

This week is the first part of a short series we are doing on EVs in the Prairies, by Rob Swystun, a Winnipeg writer who also wrote The Flatlander series on lithium mining in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. As we learned last year, lithium is the element needed in EV batteries.  

Part 1, this week, looks at how Saskatchewan and Manitoba are trailing behind all the provinces and two territories when it comes to preparing for the electric vehicle transition. Nunavut is further behind. 

For instance, Quebec offers an $8,000 rebate to those who buy a new EV, which can be combined with the $5,000 rebate from the federal government for a total of $13,000. (Saskatchewan and Manitoba currently don’t provide provincial rebates).

If you are buying an EV, like that $38,000 GM Bolt my local mechanic shop uses, the rebate in Quebec and the federal one would knock the price down to $25,000, making it much more affordable. 

The starting price of a Tesla, by comparison, is shy of $60,000. A top-end SUV is $168,000. And to qualify for the federal rebate and many of the provincial ones, the MSRP of the EV must be under $55,000.

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One of the challenges we only touch on in our reporting is how lower-income Canadians will struggle to transition to EVs. A $25,000 vehicle is out of reach for many people, especially as the cost of rent and groceries continues to climb.

Price is one of the reasons that, even by 2050, when EVs are projected to make up 60 per cent of new vehicle sales, most cars and trucks on the road will still run on gasoline, according to a New York Times article.

Change takes time, as demonstrated by some of our readers’ Christmas stories. The automobile was invented in 1886, and more than 60 years later, in the 1950s, families in rural Saskatchewan were using horse-drawn sleighs and cars to get to the school Christmas concert; and the team of horses was used to pull a stuck vehicle out of the snow

Without further ado, below is the first part of our series on EVs.

GETTY IMAGES.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan receive low scores for electric vehicle readiness

Manitoba and Saskatchewan trail behind most of Canada when it comes to electric vehicle readiness, according to the Provincial and Territorial Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Scorecard.

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The scorecard was created by Electric Mobility Canada, a non-profit organization that advocates for adopting EVs and other forms of zero-emission transportation.

Manitoba and Saskatchewan placed 12th and 11th out of all 13 provinces and territories. Only Nunavut scored lower.

The scorecard tracks the actions provinces and territories have taken toward facilitating EV adoption during the 2021–22 fiscal year and provides suggestions on what provincial and territorial governments can do better. 

British Columbia came in first, scoring 80, putting it in what Electric Mobility Canada calls the “Global Leader” category, on par with countries like Norway and states like California.

Quebec was second with a score of 73, ranking it in the “Canadian Leader” category. 

Yukon and Nova Scotia (36.5 points each), Prince Edward Island (34 points), and New Brunswick (27 points) came in third through sixth. All were placed in the “Building Momentum” category. (Canada’s national average of 29 points is also in this category).

Rounding out the scorecard in places seventh through 13th were: Newfoundland and Labrador (21 points), Ontario (19.5 points), Alberta (15.5 points), Northwest Territories (15 points), Saskatchewan (6.5 points), Manitoba (6 points) and Nunavut (2 points). 

These seven provinces and territories are in the “Getting Started” category. 

Each province and territory received scores out of 100 tallied across action areas such as ZEV adoption, infrastructure, strategy, regulation, education and government leadership.

You can read more about what Saskatchewan and Manitoba are doing well, and what they could be doing better when it comes to the EV transition.


Five stories from Manitoba you may have missed

  1. Canadian polar bears near ‘bear capital’ dying at fast rate
  2. Manitoba knew chronic wasting disease was coming for its deer. After 20 years of waiting, its arrival was still a shock
  3. ‘Freedom Convoy 2.0’ in jeopardy as top organizer announces cancellation
  4. 4 Manitobans among 99 new appointees to the Order of Canada
  5. It might bug you, but University of Manitoba’s insect collection is key to understanding the world

Five stories from Saskatchewan you may have missed

  1. ‘Why aren’t they solving this?’ Nieces continue to look for answers 60 years after Saskatoon nurse’s death
  2. ‘Being a boiled frog’: Sask. ERs boarding more patients, space limited
  3. Order of Canada appointees include five Saskatchewan residents
  4. Lithium company sees potential for southeastern Sask.
  5. More prairie women choose to be gearheads

Important work at a critical time.

Over the last 20 years, on the Prairies and beyond,  local newsrooms have shrunk, which means not much investigative journalism gets done in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Flatlander is changing this.

 

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