How many electric vehicles are there on Prince Edward Island?

In the April 2019 provincial general election, all four of the political parties on Prince Edward Island had planks in their platforms related to electric vehicles.

The PC Party pledged to “develop a solar energy rebate and electric vehicle incentive program” and to “add more electric vehicles to the government fleet as replacements are required.” The Green Party to “develop a program to support the installation of electric vehicle chargers in homes and workplace,” to “create a purchase incentive for electric vehicles,” and to “transition the provincial fleet to electric vehicles.” The Liberal Party promised to “invest in new public electric vehicle charging stations and provide tax rebates for the purchase and installation of home charging stations” and the NDP to offer “increased incentives to encourage people to purchase electric or other low-pollution vehicles.”

All of which raises the question: how many electric vehicles are there on Prince Edward Island right now?

I asked the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, and here are the counts, by fuel type, for calendar year 2019 to date:

Gas/Propane 2 0.00%
Gas/Natural Gas 3 0.00%
Butane 3 0.00%
PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric) 7 0.01%
Propane 10 0.01%
Gas/Alcohol 17 0.02%
Electric 33 0.05%
Diesel/Butane 65 0.09%
Other 110 0.15%
Hybrid — Electric/Gas 403 0.56%
Diesel 4,708 6.55%
Gas 66,511 92.54%
TOTAL 71,872 100.00%

Aggregated by fuel technology–fossil fuel (gas, diesel, butane, etc.), hybrid (like a Toyota Prius, which doesn’t plug-in, and a Kia Nero, which does) and battery electric (like a Tesla, Nissan LEAF or Chevy Bolt), the dominance of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles on the Island is ”why even bother making a pie chart” clear:

Fossil Fuel 71,429
Hybrid 410
Electric 33

I’m pretty sure I know personally at least a third of the electric vehicle owners on Prince Edward Island.

The province’s Climate Change Action Plan–which is actual policy, not platform–has two actions related to electric vehicle adoption:

12. Government will design and install a province-wide electric vehicle charging network to meet the needs of both residents and visitors to Prince Edward Island.

14. Government will increase the use of electric vehicles in its light-duty vehicle fleet.

That plan commits Islanders to lowering our carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from 1.8 megatonnes per year to 1.4 megatonnes per year; this has been further amended to 1.2 megatonnes per year

So, in other words, we have 11 years to stop emitting 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

These two Climate Action Plan moves related to electric vehicles were to be responsible for 20,000 tonnes of that; that’s 5% under the original targets, so under the new target we’ll need to increase that to 30,000 tonnes.

According to the EPA, the typical passenger vehicle emits 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, meaning that our commitment, if it were to come only from electric vehicle adoption (and generously assuming 100% zero carbon charging), will require 6,521 zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030.

Right now we have 33.

There was no electric vehicle incentive program announced in the June 25, 2019 Provincial Budget.


Todd Gallant's picture
Todd Gallant on July 18, 2019 - 23:01 Permalink

We aspire to be part of the solution in the next few years. We took a Tesla for a ride last weekend and are renting one for a couple of days during an upcoming trip. We’re believers already, and I hope to convince others to believe as well. Tangible incentives will go a long way to boost that number.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 19, 2019 - 13:11 Permalink

One of the under-recognized benefits of electric vehicle incentives that that it stimulates the used market for electric vehicles.

Andrew's picture
Andrew on July 19, 2019 - 08:19 Permalink

I can't help but wonder what fuel type the 110 "other" vehicles use. Antimatter propulsion?

As of last year, there were just over 90,000 electric cars on Canadian roads, so it's sad to see that PEI's share of that is basically zilch.

We have to remember that our provincial and federal governments are not serious when they say carbon reduction is a shared responsibility. I agree that it is, but public policy is missing.

Both levels of government just announced a climate research arm of UPEI to be constructed 50km away from the university's campus, in a province with no provincial public transit. The pandering to rural Islanders was favoured over missing public policy that should prevent such reckless projects in our attempt to meet carbon reduction targets.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 19, 2019 - 11:28 Permalink

There was a category called “no fuel/non-propulsion” that I removed from the table after confirming that it was for trailers. So I don’t know what “other” would be. I’ll ask.

Regarding the new UPEI Climate Campus, I believe that there will be at least some residential component in St. Peters with the intention that students can live in St. Peters, thus mitigating the transportation needs somewhat.

Todd Gallant's picture
Todd Gallant on July 18, 2020 - 20:09 Permalink

If it would be interesting to see these numbers now that it’s one year later. Do you think Graham could provide these numbers again?