Although widespread uptake of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) (including battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles) could help Canada achieve deep greenhouse gas reductions targets, many barriers currently prevent their proliferation in the vehicle market. Deployment of charging and refuelling infrastructure is widely claimed to support ZEV uptake; but studies have differed in their estimates regarding the extent to which ZEV infrastructure deployment might increase ZEV sales. A particular limitation among such studies is a lack of empirical basis, and limited representation of the various charging and refuelling options. Using survey data collected from 1,884 Canadian new vehicle-buying households in 2017, I develop a version of a behaviourally realistic market forecasting model, the Respondent-based Preferences and Constraints model (REPAC), to investigate the extent to which infrastructure deployment can boost ZEV sales in Canada. I simulate the impacts of increasing the availability of home, work, public destination, and highway charging access on plug-in electric vehicles sales, and the impacts of increasing hydrogen refuelling stations on hydrogen fuel cell vehicle sales. Results suggest that new ZEV market share in Canada will not substantially benefit from increased infrastructure. Even when electric vehicle charging access and hydrogen fueling access are simulated to reach “universally” available levels by 2030, new ZEV market share does not rise by more than 1.5 percentage points above the business as usual trajectory. On the other hand, REPAC simulates ZEV market share rising as high as 30% with strong ZEV-supportive policies, even without the addition of charging or refueling infrastructure above business as usual levels. These findings suggest that to achieve ambitious long-term ZEV sale targets, a comprehensive suite of policies is likely required, particularly including those that induce increased availability of ZEVs.
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