Electric Vehicles at Work and in the Community

Electricity generated in BC is 93% clean energy. This makes electric vehicles a good option for BC drivers who want to cut greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions by driving a cleaner and greener option.


Incorporating electric vehicles (EVs) into your Fleet and providing charging infrastructure for your community are effective ways to reduce corporate and community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. EVs use electricity and a battery to power the motor instead of liquid hydrocarbon fuels. The vehicles plug into electrical outlets to charge instead of fueling up at gas stations. Some EVs also have internal combustion engines for back-up, or extended range.
There are three types of EVs:
  • Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV),
  • Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV); and
  • Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)
Each type of EV is described in more detail in the EV Introductory Guide on pluginbc.ca.


Electric Vehicles produce less or zero GHG emissions. Communities can contribute to reducing their GHG emissions by replacing gas-powered vehicles on the road with EVs. This action can help local governments that have signed the Climate Action Charter achieve carbon neutrality and reduce overall community-wide emissions.
In BC there are resources for local governments for EV vehicle deployment, charging infrastructure, policy development, research, and community outreach. All of these resources can be found on pluginbc.ca.
Approximately 1000 charging stations were installed for homes, workplaces and in public areas in BC between 2011-2014. The Province of BC’s Clean Energy Vehicle (CEV) program helped fund the majority of these stations, with contributions from the various charging station hosts. The program encouraged and accelerated clean energy vehicle deployment and technology innovation within BC.
The program supported deployment of the following:
  • 306 home units through a LiveSmart residential rebate,
  • 142 multi-unit buildings around B.C.,
  • 550 public Level 2 charging stations, and
  • 8 DC Fast Charging stations – plus 5 more planned by March 2015 and 17 more by March 2016 (30 total)
While the CEV Program has now ended, many organizations continue to play a role in hosting charging stations. Resources are available to assist in planning and hosting charging stations here

Taking Action

The Government of BC committed to expanding the use of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) - aiming for  10 per cent of new vehicle purchases in public and private fleets be ZEVs by 2016. 
Read more about the commitment in the Pacific Coast Collaborative Action Plan here

Energy Savings/GHG reductions

Electricity is generated from Hydro in BC – a clean source of energy. This positions the province as a prime candidate for EV adoption. Electric motors are also more efficient than gas powered engines by at least 60%. Electricity does use energy, therefore it is not a completely carbon neutral option. It is important to make EVs a piece of a larger transportation or fleets strategy that encourages Alternative Transportation OptionsCommunity Car Share ProgramCorporate Car Share Program and transit-use.
These strategies will help communities contribute toward meeting legislated provincial GHG emissions reductions targets for the years 2020 and 2050 and support local governments to meet their own GHG reduction targets as set out in Official Community Plans and Regional Growth Strategies.
EV adoption is also an example of solutions that align with the Province of BC’s Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements Regulation which includes a 10% reduction in carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2020  (electricity is part of the regulation).

Business Case

While electric cars have a higher purchase price, fleet managers and consumers can benefit from the lower costs of operating an EV. These vehicles generally have significantly lower fuel and maintenance costs. EV owners in BC can expect to pay about 20% of the operating costs they would for an equivalent gasoline vehicle. (e.g. $600 a year to operate compared to $3000 for a gasoline vehicle.)
By installing charging stations in their community, local governments can encourage people to switch from gasoline powered vehicles to electric. This will help contribute to community wide GHG reductions. 


Costs associated with EVs relate to vehicle purchasing and maintenance as well as the initial capital costs of installing EV charging infrastructure.
Communities will need to purchase an EV charger and pay for installation. Additional features such as a rain shelter, lock boxes, information pieces and advanced software would increase costs. 
Operating costs of the EV charging infrastructure include the electricity, maintenance, network fees. Extra features such as credit card billing can increase costs. Capital and operating costs can vary. Visit pluginbc.ca to for more information.


EVs are fun to drive because they are fast and smooth. EV’s produce no smelly fumes or harmful greenhouse gases. Community health is improved because they release very little to zero particulate matter into the air.

Related Tools

Community Examples: 

  • Saanich Green Fleets Successes: $1.4 million savings in avoided fuel purchases, 3,200 tonne reduction in GHG emissions over six years (see backgrounder here).
  • Metro Vancouver: Added 67 charging points in three months (2014)