The federal government is promising legislation mandating car manufacturers to produce more electric cars by 2026 in the hopes of lowering carbon emissions, but Winnipeg might not be able to facilitate drivers making the switch.
University professor and climate researcher Dr. Durdana Islam is the proud owner of an electric car, and has been through the trials and tribulations that come with charging it in the city.
“The biggest challenge in Winnipeg is finding a charging station,” she says.
“There is a charging station at the Forks, just in front of the market, and it doesn’t work.”
On top of sites that don’t work, Dr. Islam has experienced difficulties with finding clear instructions at other stations.
“I put the pump in my car and nothing was happening,” she says.
“I called the number (and) it was a long wait. So the thing is that I have to download the app, create an account, put some money through my credit card, and that’s when I’ll be able to use it.
“I told them, the lady at the call center. I said, ‘You’re not making it easy for me or anybody.'”
As of now, there are only six charging stations in Winnipeg, two fewer than in Brandon.
Robert Elms, the president of the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association, says there’s a need for more chargers.
“What we need here are fast chargers outside of the the major centers and off the Trans-Canada Highway,” he says. “We’ve got them on the Trans-Canada Highway, which of course, is terrific.”
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Elms says Norway has proven it’s possible for a city to accommodate electric vehicles on a bigger scale.
“(In) Norway right now for every gasoline powered vehicles sold there are more than 10 battery electric vehicles, so 100 per cent electric vehicles sold,” he says.
“The norm in Norway now is to buy an electric vehicle, and it has been for the last few years.”
Elms says despite the larger expense up front, an electric vehicle saves drivers over $2,000 a year.
According to sales manager for Nott Autocorp, Dave Bishop, places like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal have a solid infrastructure built for electric vehicles.
“In Manitoba, we’re a little bit more reactive to the situation,” says Bishop.
“I think that as we start to see the numbers increase we’re going to have to put some some effort in place in order to support them, for sure.”
According to the province, there are a growing number of level two and level three stations throughout Manitoba.
Currently, 77 per cent of the province’s chargers are level two, despite the level three chargers having the faster rate.
“It has to be level three,” says Dr. Islam.
“Level two is not going to help the amount of facilities we need to have more electric vehicles on the road.”
Dr. Islam says it all comes down to infrastructure — more chargers mean more Manitobans being incentivized to switch to electric cars.
“Climate change is here,” she says.
“Do we really want to leave the world like this to our children and grandchildren?”
— with files from Michelle Karlenzig