• Thirgood, J. (2022) Charging Ahead: Ensuring Equity and Reliability in Canada's Electric Vehicle Network, Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, ON.

Executive Summary

A key component of Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy will be the decarbonization of the transportation sector. This shift requires a reimagining of passenger, public transit, and commercial vehicles, and an entirely new system of public and private infrastructure to support refuelling these vehicles with alternative fuels like electricity. This could be the most significant transformation in mobility since gasoline-powered cars replaced horse-drawn carriages.

As part of this path to decarbonization, the federal government has proposed a mandatory zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales target of 100% for all light-duty passenger vehicles by 2035. While these vehicles may use alternative fuel sources such as hydrogen, battery electric vehicles (EVs) currently appear to hold the most potential – its market is booming as the average price of an EV continues to decline and the price of gasoline skyrockets. There is a need to deploy hundreds of thousands of charging sites across the country and do it quickly to seize the momentum of the EV marketplace. The federal government is pushing forward with cost-sharing programs alongside numerous provincial and municipal initiatives to build sufficient public and private EV charging infrastructure.

However, it is important that these long-term investments be made thoughtfully and strategically to ensure that no one is left behind in the low-carbon transition. If the future of mobility is electric, it is crucial that governments, charging network operators, and utilities work together to build a Canada-wide EV charging network that is equitable and reliable.

This report provides an overview of Canada’s EV charging infrastructure, followed by a summary of the key issues surrounding charging infrastructure deployment, such as location, physical design, reliability, and payment options. Finally, policy considerations are offered for the federal government to keep in mind as it develops a robust EV charging network, namely, to deploy EV charging infrastructure through an equity lens, incorporate accessible design practices at the outset, ensure reliability for drivers, and to promote inclusive payment options.

This report has been informed by interviews with subject matter experts across government and industry and policy and technical research, as well as literature reviews and a jurisdictional scan of best practices.