Funding electric public transit can reduce emissions and address economic inequality
To promote their use, the Canadian government incentivized the purchase of electric vehicles in 2019, making it easier for Canadians to buy zero-emission vehicles.
Yet, high prices continue to be a major barrier. Electric vehicles of all types, even after a decade of being on the market, remain too expensive for most Canadians - even after government incentives. The average electric vehicle buyer in the United States is a middle-aged man with an income exceeding $100,000. This suggests that electric vehicle incentives, totalling about $2.2 billion in Canada, primarily go to the top 16 per cent income bracket - an already privileged group.By switching from gasoline to electric, GHG reductions average about 4.2 tonnes per vehicle annually across the country. We used the federal government’s social cost of carbon, which reflects future damage costs from releases today. It’s important to note that the social cost of carbon is different than current federal fuel charges, which merely provide a price-signal to consumers. We calculate that these reductions would result in a benefit of about $210 annually per vehicle. The reduction of other air pollutants would also improve air quality. This would have positive benefits on human health. The first option for addressing electric vehicle affordability requires the federal government to provide enhanced incentives to low-income electric vehicle consumers. Such incentives would need to bridge the total cost of ownership gap - the purchase cost of the vehicle, plus operating and fuel costs — between modest new electric cars and modest new conventional cars.