Gilbert Proulx was eager to go electric when he spent close to $400 on gas in March alone.
The 36-year-old teacher in Regina started searching for an electric car, but quickly found dealerships had limited supply. For example, Volkswagen said it couldn't guarantee it would have one car in stock before the end of 2022.
Proulx was able to place an order for a Chevrolet Bolt EUV, but it's scheduled to be built in July and delivered six to eight weeks later.
"With the way gas prices are right now, I'm a little impatient about getting my electric car. But ultimately, I feel like in the long run, economically, it will be better for us, my family and myself," Proulx said in a recent interview with CBC News.
"It's more like knowing you're getting an awesome Christmas gift and having to wait until Christmas to open it."
Proulx is one of many Saskatchewan residents waiting months to get into an electric vehicle.
"The availability for cars is very scarce and basically at this point, almost all cars are special order only," said Matthew Pointer, founder of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association.
"That's all across the board from Kia, Hyundai, Nissan, Tesla, Chevrolet and so forth."
Most Saskatchewan people are waiting from six months to a year to get the electric vehicle (EV) they want, according to Pointer.
Supply chain challenges, high gas prices and Russia's invasion of Ukraine are the driving forces behind the EV shortages and long wait times seen in many parts of Canada and the world, industry experts say.
"Whenever you see an increase in gas prices, there's an interest in more fuel efficient vehicles," said Brian Kingston, president and CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association.
"On top of that, automakers are spending approximately $550 billion on electrification. So you're seeing a lot of exciting new models coming into the market."
Kia Canada said the growing demand for recently launched products like the Sorento PHEV and EV6, coupled with industry-wide chip shortages, has affected production and availability.
"To be able to best manage customer expectations and honour delivery times, we have temporarily limited sales on these models," the company said in a statement.
Delivery times for Tesla vehicles range from August of this year to March 2023 depending on the model.
The worldwide shortage of microchips has hampered the supply of gas-powered cars as well.
Problem 'significantly worse' in Saskatchewan than other provinces, group says
Pointer said the EV shortage problem is "significantly worse" in Saskatchewan, compared to British Columbia and Quebec, which have mandates that require automakers to sell a certain percentage of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV).
Most new EV registrations in the last quarter of 2021 were in Quebec, according to Statistics Canada data.
EV sales rates in B.C. and Quebec are more than 10 times those in Saskatchewan and more than triple those in Ontario.
"There's therefore not much incentive for dealers to bring EVs in [Saskatchewan] unless they have them pre-sold through a customer ahead of time," Pointer said.
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In its emissions reduction plan released in late March, the federal government said it will mandate that 20 per cent of all new light-duty vehicles sales in Canada be ZEVs by 2026. The federal mandate will then dictate that at least 60 per cent of all new vehicles sold in 2030 are ZEVs, before rising to 100 per cent in 2035.
Under this plan, Canadians won't be able to buy a new internal combustion engine car or truck by the middle of the next decade.
"We really have our work cut out here provincially if we're going to even hit that 20 per cent marker, given that we don't have a provincial mandate to boost sales," Pointer said.
The federal government also announced it's expanding its electric vehicle rebate program to include larger vehicles such as vans, SUVs and trucks, which previously had not qualified.
The program offers a $5,000 rebate for fully electric vehicles and $2,500 for hybrid vehicles. Saskatchewan doesn't have its own rebate program — unlike other provinces including Quebec, B.C., P.E.I. and Nova Scotia — putting buyers at a disadvantage, noted Huw Williams of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association.
"Where there's consumer incentives in competing provinces, the demand is most naturally filled there," Williams told CBC News.
More important than provincial competition for EVs, Canada is competing on a North American and worldwide level, especially with the U.S., which offers much higher rebates, Williams said.
Less than 1% of registered vehicles in Sask. are electric
Saskatchewan is also the only province that has an annual $150 road-use fee for all electric vehicles users, which Pointer said can discourage people from buying EVs.
For its part, the government said the tax ensures EV owners contribute to road and highway maintenance, since they're not doing so through the provincial fuel tax.
There were 814 electric vehicles registered in Saskatchewan as of April 25 of this year, according to SGI data, which is only about 0.09 per cent of total vehicles registered in the province.
One out of every three registered vehicles in Saskatchewan is a pickup truck, beating out every province with available data.
There is no data on EVs as a percentage of the total number of registered vehicles on a national scale, but according to StatsCan, 86,000 battery-powered EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles were sold in 2021 in Canada, accounting for 5.2 per cent of all new vehicles registered.