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

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

CVRD Area E director Alison Nicholson, right, hiked two hours to Waterfall Camp at the Fairy Creek watershed along with Comox town councillor Nicole Minion and Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour to meet with old-growth logging activists on Monday, June 7. (Submitted)
Cowichan Valley regional director visits Fairy Creek protest camps

‘They clearly communicated that they are committed to what they are doing’

Tim Wilkinson, who will attempt a double anvil triathlon on Vancouver Island on July 3, poses with his training partner, Shadow, who has been dragged up and down the Nanaimo Parkway many times. (Submitted)
Vancouver Island triathlete takes on ‘double anvil’ for charity

7.6km swim, 360km bike ride, and 84.4km run, all within 36 hours

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read