Guilbeault wants electric vehicle sales quotas to be established by the end of 2021

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says he wants a national mandate forcing car dealers to sell a certain number of electric vehicles by the end of next year.

Trucking accounts for one fifth of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. As Canada charts a path to net zero by 2050, removing carbon dioxide from passenger cars is a big part of the process.

The federal government wants half of all new passenger cars sold in Canada to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030 and to reach 100% by 2035.

Canadians bought more electric vehicles in the past two years than the previous eight combined, but even so, only three percent of new cars registered were battery-electric or plug-in hybrids.

The Liberals promised during the election campaign to bring a sales mandate to meet those goals. Guilbeault said he wants that to happen by the end of 2022, or early 2023 at the latest.

“This (mandate) will not go into effect in the next few months, but it will go into effect very soon,” he said. “We’re at three, maybe four percent. We have to get 50 (percent). It’s a lot of heavy lifting.”

Guilbeault launched consultations on how to develop that mandate this fall. A new discussion paper for those meetings seeks information on how the mandate should work, the effect on the Canadian auto industry, and whether there should be an intermediate target by 2030.

The growth of electric vehicles has been rapid in recent years, but almost entirely in the two provinces that already have a provincial sales mandate. Quebec began imposing sales quotas for electric vehicles in 2018, followed by British Columbia in 2020.

Three out of four new electric vehicles registered in Canada in 2020 were in BC and Quebec. Ontario, which was discounted through 2018, accounted for 19 percent. The rest of Canada accounted for less than five percent.

Outside of BC and Quebec, few dealers have access to electric vehicles and the wait can last more than six months. The supply chain crunches that plague the entire auto industry make it worse.

Mandate to enforce required #EV sales quotas by the end of next year: @s_guilbeault. #CDNPoli #NetZero

“That’s one of the best arguments in favor of a national zero-emission vehicle mandate,” said Joanna Kyriazis, Senior Policy Advisor for Clean Energy Canada.

“Right now, we are really looking at the two Canada story when it comes to electric vehicles.”

There must be a mandate for early 2023 if the targets are to be met, he said.

Until recently, Quebec and British Columbia were also the only provinces with a rebate program that reduced the cost of a new electric vehicle. Yukon, the Northwest Territories and the four Atlantic provinces introduced them in the last 18 months.

Guilbeault said that in Quebec and BC, provincial mandates immediately opened up both vehicle availability and options. Automakers introduced new models and shifted supplies to those provinces to avoid the $ 5,000 fine for each credit they lack to meet the quota.

“Suddenly, people have access to a whole range of vehicles that they didn’t have before,” Guilbeault said. “So they have more options in terms of prices, model sizes, battery life. And that makes a big difference.”

BC and Quebec passed laws to establish their electric vehicle mandates and then used regulations for the details. Guilbeault said Canada can go straight to regulation under Canada’s Environmental Protection Act, which will see the mandate implemented much faster than legislation.

Most experts will say that the world is moving toward electric vehicles no matter what. The key is how fast it happens.

Guilbeault said that if Canada does not move quickly to boost electric vehicle sales and become an important part of global supply chains, it would eventually end electric cars on the road. But you wouldn’t get the huge financial benefits that can come with them.

Norway, which has had incentives for electric vehicles for more than 20 years, leads global sales. Seventy-five percent of the new cars sold there last year were zero-emission vehicles. Canada’s market share was 3.5 percent, up from 2.9 percent in 2019.

Many European countries saw their share of the electric vehicle market skyrocket last year: from 3.1% to 11.3% in the UK, from 2.8% to 11.3% in France and from 2, 9% to 13.5% in Germany.

China, which is the largest market for electric vehicles, reached 5.7% in 2020.

Most of those countries increased rebates to reduce the cost of purchasing zero-emission vehicles, and some, including Germany, are making it a legal requirement that all service stations have a charging station.

The shift to an all-electric fleet is “massive,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said during the United Nations climate talks in November.

“That is a massive transformation, not only for consumer behavior, but also for production, supply chains, rules and harmonization of standards,” he said.

Wilf Steimle, president of the Electric Vehicle Society, has been a full-time electric vehicle advocate for the past seven years. He said the switch to electric vehicles must overcome consumer concerns about charging stations and vehicle costs, and education about the benefits.

Steimle said helping car dealerships prepare is also critical, because the cost for most dealerships of installing charging equipment and training sales and maintenance personnel is still well above the profits from vehicle sales. electrical

Huw Williams, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Automobile Dealers, said automobile manufacturers and sellers are preparing, but the government’s timelines are ambitious and cannot happen overnight.

“It is difficult for the government to understand the size and scope of this transition,” he said.

Williams said distributors want to work with the government to ensure the process is clear and fair for everyone involved.

This Canadian Press report was first published on December 10, 2021.

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