In the war against climate change, the Ontario government’s battle cry is “charge!”
The province announced Wednesday a new network of almost 500 charging stations for electric cars at stores, fast-food restaurants, and downtown office towers.
Partnering with 24 companies like IKEA, McDonald’s, and Tim Hortons, Queen’s Park will spend $20 million to have the chargers up and running by the end of next March.
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said the Liberals want to reduce the “range anxiety” some motorists feel toward electric cars, which is one reason why there are fewer than 7,000 of them on Ontario roads despite years of generous incentive programs.
“By investing in charging infrastructure that is fast, reliable and affordable we will encourage more Ontarians to purchase electric vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas pollution and keeping our air clean,” Del Duca told reporters in the parking lot of the IKEA store in Etobicoke.
More than 300 of the charging stations will be in and around the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area – including 84 high-speed 480-volt direct current fast chargers that can charge a car to 80 per cent full power in 30 minutes.
A majority of the charging stations will use a 240-volt system – similar to the electrical plug on a clothes dryer – that can fully charge a car in four to six hours, which makes sense in office parking garages.
Motorists will be able to pay for their charge with credit cards as they would gasoline or diesel at the pumps.
The nearly 500 charging stations will be at 250 different locations from Windsor to North Bay to Ottawa in the first phase of what will eventually be a province-wide system.
It’s part of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s sweeping five-year, $8.3-billion plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Her scheme includes subsidizing free overnight electrical car charging at home, making garage plugs mandatory in all new houses and condos that have garages, and a forthcoming “cash-for-clunkers” program to encourage low- and middle-income drivers to trade in their old cars for new or used electric vehicles.
Existing government rebates of up to $14,000 for a new electric car will be expanded and up to $1,000 will be available for homeowners wishing to install plugs in the garage or carport.
Queen’s Park is currently negotiating with Ottawa to get the 13 per cent harmonized sales tax removed from electric cars by 2018.
Wynne wants five per cent of passenger cars sold annually in Ontario to be electric. With 284,000 cars purchased in the province last year, that means selling 14,000 electric vehicles – such as the Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Audi A3 e-Tron, and all Tesla models.
That’s double the number of electric cars now in the province.
Under Wynne’s climate-change plan, which aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, gasoline prices will rise 4.3 cents a litre next year.