Chinese shift in the Quebec electric car sector

It’s something we haven’t seen for 20 years: a car show at the Olympic Stadium. But electric, those. And Chinese, too. Sign of the times?

At the Montreal Electric Vehicle Show, which is being held this weekend at the Olympic Stadium – a first for the sports site since 2002 -, those among the 35,000 visitors expected by the organizers will take a look at the small ET5 vehicle. presented by the Chinese company Skyworth – which sells it under the Imperium brand here, a term which means “government” in Latin – will also have the impression of seeing double.

The sport utility vehicle built in China could as well be sold under the Toyota brand or even, according to the exclamations of the first curious present at the opening Friday, under Mercedes-Benz.

It should come as no surprise to see Chinese electric car makers eyeing North America or Europe for their future products. The opportunity is great, with the ongoing electrification of the sector, to find its place in a globalized market which has never experienced such great disruption.

In the sights of China

Quebec is one of the markets in North America where electric vehicles are the most popular. At a price that starts slightly under $ 25,000 once government purchase assistance is taken into account, the Imperium ET5 will certainly intrigue buyers who care less about the logo that adorns the grille of their vehicle and more about the look. motorization that it conceals. In this case: a single electric motor and a battery strong enough to provide 400 km of range per charge.

The names of some 500 Quebec consumers are already on the waiting list for the first copies destined for Canada, which will leave the manufacturer’s Chinese factories next November, says Christian Dubois, president of Imperium Motors Canada. It also remains to obtain the approval of the Canadian authorities to sell the vehicle in the country, but this would only be a formality, according to the latter.

It’s all about the price

Things are moving fast for Imperium and for Mr. Dubois, who was hired as recently as last June to lead the country’s implementation of the brand which ultimately belongs to another company called DSG Global. In addition to the small SUV presented at Olympic Stadium these days, the group whose North American headquarters are in California would also eventually want to sell the country electric commercial vehicles, including buses for transit companies.

Like many companies whose products are imported from China, Imperium’s main asset is being able to sell its products at a very low price, which is sure to annoy its North American and European competitors.

We say the electric “vehicle” show, because it is not just cars that we find there. California-based manufacturer Zero Motorcycles is one of the best-known brands of electric motorcycles and has a stand on site. There are also sellers of scooters, bicycles and even all-terrain vehicles (“ quads ») Electrified.

In addition to being electric, all these vehicles have another point in common: their price makes many eyebrows. This is a theme that recurs regularly throughout the exhibition. And to cushion the higher cost of electric vehicles, government purchasing assistance is essential. Provincial assistance for cars reaches up to $ 8,000 after taxes, and federal assistance $ 5,000, when applicable.

What will happen to this purchase aid in the future is a question that was not formally debated by federal party leaders as part of the election campaign, but it could be called upon to change quickly as virtue of which will form the government once the ballot has been counted.

The Electric Mobility Canada organization put the question to each of the federal parties in the running. If the Liberal Party and the Bloc are in favor of the status quo, the NDP for its part has proposed to triple federal aid to $ 15,000, but to make it a good “family” aid for one or more purchases within the country. ” the same household, provided that the vehicles purchased are made in Canada. The Conservatives do not say in their action plan whether they would keep the purchasing aid and prefer to focus on investing in local industry.

For their part, the exhibitors present at the Stadium obviously say they would rather wish for extended assistance which would include more models and categories of vehicles than the current program. This could concern both the slew of electric vans expected later in 2022 and the possibility of replacing the gasoline engine of one’s own vehicle with an equivalent electric unit, which turns out to be even less polluting than buying a whole new vehicle. .

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