MALLORYTOWN, ONT. -- Electric vehicle charging stations will be installed at most ONroute rest stops in eastern Ontario and across Ontario by next summer.

Energy Minister Todd Smith and Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney made the announcement Wednesday, saying each site will have at least two chargers, with busier locations equipped with more.

"This really is an historic expansion of Ontario's electric vehicle infrastructure," said Smith. "This means better convenience, it means greater range for those who have electric vehicles and more opportunities to rediscover Ontario."

"Bringing these electric vehicle chargers directly to our province's busiest highways is a big step in the right direction," added Mulroney.

"One of the most common concerns that we hear from drivers that are looking to make the switch to EVs is where they will be able to charge up during a long road trip," she added.

The pay-per-use charging stations will be installed by Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation's joint network called Ivy, and won't involve direct funding from the provincial government itself.

After Premier Doug Ford came to power in 2018, the government stopped building a network of public charging stations, with agencies and companies stepping in to meet some of the demand.

At the ONroute locations near Mallorytown on Wednesday, travellers were excited to hear the news.

"Anything that encourages people to think more about the environment and save on gas and save money," said Tracey Erin-Smith, on her way to Toronto, saying it's a good push to purchase an electric vehicle.

"We are in the market for a new car and definitely thinking about that," she added.

"That's the reason why we didn't go fully electric is because there aren't enough charging stations," said Christie Jacobs, who purchased a Lexus hybrid vehicle this past summer.

"As soon as there are enough charging stations around we want to switch to all electric. It is needed. I actually stopped at hotel last night in Montreal and charged it at the hotel. I was done in two hours," Jacobs said.

"I don't charge along the way because (there) aren't convenient charging points, so I use the gas version when I am on the highway," she added.

ONroute CEO Melanie Teed-Murch says charging stations have been in discussion at their locations for years.

"This is one of the most popular items that comes across my desk through our contact us page," she said.  "Travellers have been looking for chargers at ONroutes."

ONroute operates 23 service centres along highways 400 and 401, and by next summer, 17 of those locations will have electric vehicle charging stations up and running.

"We're here to support sustainability across the province," Teed-Murch said. "Climate change is a real thing and we are thrilled to be partnering with the government as well as our partners to provide the amenities that support purchasing an EV vehicle."

"While the customers may say, 'Why did it take you so long?' it's a journey, not a sprint, and we're just really happy that this has come to fruition and that we are putting it into all of our sites over the next year, to year and a half," she added.

Ford also cancelled electric vehicle rebates in 2018, but in recent weeks has been speaking about wanting to make Ontario an electric vehicle manufacturing leader.

"This deployment will reduce barriers to EV ownership, supporting Ontario's growing EV manufacturing market, critical minerals sector and help achieve Ontario's goal of building at least 400,000 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2030," Smith said in a statement.

As of October 2021, there were 66,757 electric vehicles registered in Ontario, with the government expecting one out of every three cars sold in 2030 to be fully electric.

With files from The Canadian Press