13% of new car sales in BC in 2021 were electric-battery models

Apr 1 2022, 11:17 pm

Despite supply shortages, British Columbia continued to see strong growth in new electric-battery car sales, with 13% of all new light-duty vehicle sales in 2021 being zero-emission models — a total of 24,263 new registrations.

Virtually all new zero-emission vehicles sold were battery models, according to the provincial government’s update today.

According to the provincial government, BC has maintained its position of having the highest uptake of zero-emission vehicles in any provincial or state jurisdiction in North America.

BC previously set 2025 as its target for meeting 10% zero-emission vehicle sales, but it is now five years ahead of schedule.

In 2015, the proportion of electric-battery car sales was just 0.8%, and it grew to only 1% in 2016 and 1.5% in 2017. But the rate of growth began to accelerate in 2018, when 4.1% was recorded. This was followed by 8.7% in 2019, and 9.4% in 2020.

bc electric vehicle sale rates

Rate of zero-emission vehicle sales in BC. (Government of BC)

bc electric vehicle registration totals

Total number of zero-emission vehicle sales in BC. (Government of BC)

In October 2021, due to the early success in uptake and as part of the broader CleanBC plan, the provincial government moved its 100% zero-emission vehicle sales target to 2035 — previously set for 2040 — which also aligns it with the federal government’s national target.

Ahead of 2035, BC has new interim targets of 26% by 2026 and 90% by 2030. The report states that BC is now well on its way to achieving its revised 2026 target.

The high rate of growth has been partially driven by various federal and provincial rebates over the years, with the provincial government reporting it has provided a total of $173 million in rebates for nearly 52,000 new zero-emission vehicle purchases between 2015 and the end of 2021.

Furthermore, all three levels of government have also been increasing investments in public charging infrastructure and various incentives for charging infrastructure on private property. As of the end of 2021, there were 2,399 Level 2 public charging stations in BC — up from 961 in 2017, and 2,127 in 2020. The availability of public fast-fast charging stations grew from 131 in 2017 to 480 in 2020, and 720 in 2021.

Throughout 2021, provincial rebate programs also supported the installation of 2,520 home electric vehicle chargers, 289 multi-unit residential building chargers, and 297 workplace chargers.

“People are increasingly choosing electric vehicles as the clean and lower-cost option, and we have achieved our 2025 target for zero-emission vehicles five years ahead of schedule,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in a statement.

“The switch to electric vehicles for personal and commercial use means less carbon and air pollution, a cleaner environment, and lower fuel and maintenance costs for the growing number of zero-emission vehicle users.”

Global supply chain shortages for new electric-battery vehicles, as well as the parts to make the vehicles, such as chips, are sending prospective electric car buyers towards the used vehicle market. Used electric-battery vehicle prices have seen an upward pressure in growth from high demand.

Historically high gas prices in BC have also been a factor for pushing demand, with the most recent spike in fuel costs — due to sanctions on Russian fuel supplies — being the latest contributing factor.

As of earlier this year, the provincial government removed the PST from used car sales for electric-battery models.

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