British Columbia (B.C.) has introduced legislation to require that all new light-duty vehicles sold in 2040 and beyond be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Bill 28, the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act, introduced April 10, 2019, fulfills a promise made by Premier John Horgan on November 20, 2018.
B.C. is the second province to introduce legislation mandating the sale of ZEVs. Quebec passed its legislation in 2016 and it took effect for the 2018 model year. It requires that 22% of all new passenger vehicle sales be ZEVs or low-emission vehicles by 2025.
By comparison, B.C.’s requirement through 2025 will be more modest. Bill 28 will require that only 10% of light-duty vehicle sales be ZEVs by 2025. But it does ramp up steeply afterward – to 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2040.
According to the government, 4% of new light-duty vehicle sales in 2018 were ZEVs.
Many of the details of B.C.’s program will be fleshed out by regulation, but the framework established by Bill 28 resembles that of Quebec. Compliance will be the responsibility of automakers. A ZEV is defined as a vehicle propelled by electricity or hydrogen that does not emit greenhouse gases for at least some of the time while being operated (thereby including hybrid vehicles in the definition).
Sales of ZEVs will earn credits (called ZEV units) that will vary depending on vehicle emissions. At the end of each compliance period, manufacturers must be able to retire credits that represent their portion of the provincial target for that period. Credits will be transferable from one automaker to another, and automakers who fail to comply will be hit with administrative penalties.
B.C. is supporting the ZEV market with purchase incentives of up to $5,000 for a new battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, and up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Horgan has said that the province will review its current purchase incentive program, with an eye to expanding it over time.
Right now, though, the challenge in B.C. seems to be supply, not demand. In June and July 2018, Clean Energy Canada surveyed all 322 dealerships in B.C. that qualified for the province’s electric vehicle rebate program and found that only 40% of them had electric cars on their lots available to purchase.
In a statement, Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said: “This legislation will help ensure supply keeps up with demand, making it easier for people to go electric while helping B.C. cut carbon pollution and combat climate change. If you want an electric car, you should be able to drive one home from the lot, same as any car—that’s what this policy is about.”