An electric car is seen getting charged at parking lot in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver, Friday, April, 6, 2018. Should Canada introduce a national mandate requiring the auto industry make or sell more zero-emission vehicles is a question facing the Liberal government as it’s not on the road to meet its own sales targets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

An electric car is seen getting charged at parking lot in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver, Friday, April, 6, 2018. Should Canada introduce a national mandate requiring the auto industry make or sell more zero-emission vehicles is a question facing the Liberal government as it’s not on the road to meet its own sales targets. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Should Canada mandate sales targets for electric vehicles? Report says ‘yes’

Statistics Canada reported that 3.5% of the vehicles registered in the country last year were electric

Whether Canada should introduce a national mandate requiring the auto industry to make or sell more zero-emission vehicles is a question facing the Liberal government as it’s not on the road to meet its own targets.

The vehicles, known as ZEVs, are seen by Ottawa as a way to help cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to get to net-zero by 2050 and slash them by up to 45 per cent below 2005 levels within the decade.

Together, light-duty passenger trucks and cars typically make up the biggest polluting culprits within Canada’s transportation sector.

A parliamentary committee tasked with studying how to incentivize the purchase and production of electric vehicles recently recommended that Ottawa work with provinces and industry to “establish a national ZEV standard.”

Essentially, it’s a regulation that would require manufacturers and companies to make or sell a certain number of electric vehicles by issuing them credits and setting targets.

Such programs exist in British Columbia and Quebec – which lead the country, along with Ontario, for where most of Canada’s electric vehicles have been registered.

The committee’s final report says the design of such programs differs slightly by jurisdiction. It recommends any mandate be developed “while respecting constitutional responsibilities and the deep integration of the North American automotive market.”

A statement from Transport Minister Omar Alghabra’s office says it remains “open to all options, that would encourage the adoption of zero-emission vehicles.”

Introducing a standard for zero-emission vehicles is among the ideas pitched by the Conservatives in the party’s recently released climate plan.

In its study, the parliamentary committee heard that only one-third of car dealerships in Canada had a zero-emission vehicle actually in stock.

Sarah Petrevan, a policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said aside from the cost of the vehicles, their availability is one of the barriers to getting more on the road.

“The one thing that a ZEV standard does is help ensure that there’s supply,” she said.

“If somebody does want to buy a zero-emission vehicle or they’re interested in it, it’s available at the dealership lot, they can test it, they can try it, they can buy it.”

Statistics Canada reported in April that only around 3.5 per cent of the vehicles registered in the country last year were electric.

David Adams, president and CEO of Global Automakers of Canada, said the writing is on the wall for the industry that the future is electric, but he believes a mandated sales target isn’t the best way to get there.

He contends that financial incentives are driving the uptake of such vehicles, which need to be supported by more education and charging infrastructure.

The Liberal government has been offering cash rebates of up to $5,000 for buying a fully electric car and up to $2,500 for plug-in hybrid models. The maximum purchase price of the lowest-end model can’t be over $45,000.

The government says the $300-million-program has been so popular that as of last November, $255 million had already been claimed since it was introduced in May 2019.

Even with rising sales and millions spent to build more charging stations, Transport Canada has said more needs to be done to meet the department’s first target to have 10 per cent of all light-duty cars be electric by 2025.

Adams believes one of the risks with a mandate is that it could force auto companies to manage their fleets to ensure they are not selling more vehicles powered by internal combustion engines than electric ones out of concern for facing penalties.

That could result in people looking to buy a truck or SUV turning to the United States if they couldn’t find what they’re looking for in Canada.

“And most consumers, I mean, let’s face it, if they drive an SUV or a pickup truck they’re not going to all of a sudden say, ‘Oh well, I don’t want that vehicle, I’ll substitute it for a sedan instead.’ “

Adams said with more models of electric vehicles expected to hit the market in the years ahead, fear among dealers is there will not be enough buyers to support demand, which is why rebate programs should continue until the price of electric vehicles gets close to non-electric ones.

Petrevan said the transportation sector is a huge source of Canada’s emissions of heat-trapping gases, second only to the fossil fuel industry.

And as Canada faces increased pressure from countries like the United States, United Kingdom and European Union to more aggressively curb emissions, it needs greater focus on what’s on the road.

“We actually have to do something in the transportation sector to not only reduce emissions but to encourage and support the economic transition that Canada’s auto-sector is facing.”

READ MORE: B.C. electric vehicle sales charge ahead in pandemic 2020

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Electric vehicles

Just Posted

Cowichan District Hospital. (File photo)
Guest column: The story of a surgery in Cowichan

In homage to the Cowichan District Hospital and its surgical team

Motorcyclists in the hundreds depart from Duncan on a South Island ride in honour of the Kamloops 215. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Ride for the Kamloops 215 takes over Trans-Canada Highway

“My family was in residential schools for three generations. On the day… Continue reading

(The winning Lady of the Lake candidates demonstrate their talents during the annual Opportunity Night, Wednesday, June 8. Mary Batyi, left, does a Highland Dance routine, accompanied by a bagpiper; Jorden Matson, centre, shows people her artwork while telling the crowd what her inspirations are; Amber Bell tells people about competitive swimming, before providing a virtual demonstration.” (Tyler Clarke/Lake Cowichan Gazette, June 15, 2011)
Flashback: Water meters, ‘Porky’, and Lady of the Lake

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Not securing your load could cost you big

An object of any sort falling off of the vehicle in front of you is definitely a surprise

Jared Popma recently streamed a live concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. (Ashley Daniel Foot photo)
21-year-old jazz artist talks favourite tunes and joys of music theory

Jared Popma recently streamed a concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read