Toronto a hub for electric vehicles in Canada

These fully electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars are the stars of a five-day event, on until Friday, January 16, marking a special milestone – the 10,000th electric vehicle sold in Canada.

Hosted by Plug ’n Drive, a non-profit organization working to educate and help accelerate the adoption of electric cars in Canada, EV 10,000 celebrates electric cars, charging stations and clean electricity. And for the thousands of electric car-lovers and passersby, it is a chance to get an up-close view of the latest models on the market.

There is much to honk horns about seeing the previous year’s tally of cars sold across the country was five thousand.

“When we started the company, there were no electric vehicles,” says Josh Tzventarny, Director of Operations at Plug ‘n Drive. “That was three-and-a-half years ago. We’d like to think we’ve played a part in growing consumer interest.”

The break up between Electric Cars (powered solely by a rechargeable battery pack) and Hybrids (running on electric power and gas engine) in Canada is roughly fifty-fifty. Plug ‘n Drive has been keeping count. Numbers reveal that Toronto is a hub with more than 620 in the city and more than 2,000 in the GTA.

Among the dozens of models available in Canada, (all offering various kilometre ranges at varying costs), the biggest seller has been the Chevy Volt. (There are approximately 4,000 in Canada).

Who’s driving electric and hybrid? Tzventarny says owners tend to be those with a private garage in which they can install a charging station.

“It’s almost more of a suburban vehicle in some ways,” he explains. “For people who drive to the GO Station or just commute 50 km. For some it may be a second car as it gets over the range anxiety.”

Continuing consumer education at EV 10,000, their annual EV Day at Yonge and Dundas Square and other public events across the province is key in growing electric and hybrid car sales.

“People love the vehicles when they get in them. The performance blows them away and how quiet it is,” he continues. “But they get kind of concerned that they haven’t seen a deployment of charging stations in any significant manner in the province.”

This is a challenge for those living in apartment buildings and condos, or as in Tzventarny’s own situation, those with access to only street parking. Last year Plug ‘n Drive worked with condo owners to create a guide to help navigate the charging station set up. They’ve partnered with CAA to manage a map listing charging stations across Canada. There are about 500 in Ontario, including more than 300 in the GTA.

As gas prices drop, clean energy advocates continue to watch for the potential impact on peoples’ driving behaviors. For Tzventarny, the environmental message always remains a prominent one: “drivers can reduce their emissions by 90 per cent when driving electric vehicles versus a gas car.”