A review by the northern Saskatchewan town of La Ronge concluded that adopting electric vehicles for municipal use didn’t make sense and posed too many risks, especially when it comes to emergency use. 

The review comes as the federal government proposes to phase out the sale of new fuel vehicles by 2035. 

La Ronge’s review indicates that the unpredictable nature of emergency responses could clash with the recharging needs of electric vehicles. The report concluded that, overall, EVs do not align with the demands of emergencies.

“There are several services and departments that have unpredictive emergency response functions (such as airport, fire, public works), and the reliability of responding vehicles is crucial,” wrote analysts. 

For example, ongoing or repeated emergencies can require vehicles to be in use for periods that do not align with the recharging needs of electric vehicles. As such, electric vehicles do not generally meet the needs of emergencies.” 

Furthermore, the town’s analysts identified a deficiency in the infrastructure necessary to support widespread electric vehicle use. The installation of charging ports and other essential infrastructure at various town sites would be needed to integrate electric vehicles into the municipal fleet. 

“Charging ports and supporting infrastructure would be required at numerous Town sites to facilitate the integration of electric vehicles into the municipal fleet,” the report concluded. 

“Additionally, vehicles would likely need to be stored indoors to prevent battery performance and wear issues caused by inclement weather. This necessitates a substantial investment in infrastructure, a consideration not currently accounted for in the Town’s long-term capital plan.”

Despite the advantages of electric vehicles, such as lower maintenance requirements and reduced environmental impact, the La Ronge report also cited higher up front costs and specialized training required for maintenance as negatives. 

La Ronge is not alone in its scepticism towards electric vehicle fleets. Other municipalities, such as St. Albert in Alberta, have faced criticism for overpromising on the capabilities of expensive electric bus fleets. St. Albert’s electric buses have fallen short of their promised lifespan and performance, leading to a 33% reduction in their expected lifespan from the initially projected 18 years to 12 years.