VICTORIA -- The B.C. government has announced new regulations to ensure that all new vehicles sold in the province will be fully electric by 2040.

The provincial government first announced its electric vehicle target back in 2018. The government is releasing a year-by-year framework to help vehicle manufacturers and sellers reach the fully electric target within 20 years.

“British Columbians are eager to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, help reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs, but price and availability can be barriers,” said B.C. Energy Minister Bruce Ralston on Thursday.

“Today we are one step closer to ensuring that in less than 20 years, every new car sold in B.C. will be a zero-emission vehicle powered by clean electricity.”

The province says that at least 10 per cent of all light-duty vehicle sales must be electric by 2025 under its Zero-Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Act.

By 2030, at least 30 per cent of vehicle sales must be electric, and 100 per cent of vehicles sold must be electric by 2040.

“It’s really simple, if you want an electric vehicle in this province you should be able to go to a lot, try one out and bring it home,” said Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, at the B.C. legislature Thursday.

“B.C. is now one of the few jurisdictions in the world that has a zero-emissions vehicle target,” she said, adding that B.C. was one of the first governments in the world to develop a concrete framework to reach that goal.

Smith and Ralston say that one of the largest barriers for B.C. consumers when looking for an electric vehicle is cost and availability.

Through the ZEV Act, B.C.’s energy minister says that there will be sufficiently availability, and a range of different EV vehicles to chose from for B.C. residents.

Smith adds that driving electric vehicles will benefit average British Columbians, as EVs require lower maintenance and fuel costs compared to regular gas vehicles.

EV sales are also expected to help protect the environment, as approximately 40 per cent of B.C.’s current emissions come from transportation, Smith says.

The ZEV Act was developed in consultation with the auto industry, local governments and environmental groups, says the province.

Moving forward, the province says it will continue to engage with these stakeholders to review how the ZEV Act is progressing.

The provincial government says it will also establish a ZEV advisory council – made up of industry workers, environmental groups, First Nations, infrastructure providers and other third-party participants – to discuss any necessary adjustments to the act.