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

Alberta premier Jason Kenney announced the province's reopening plan late last month and moved into Stage 1 of that plan Tuesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

Town of Castor
Town of Castor meeting highlights for June 14th

The Town has appointed a returning officer for this fall’s municipal elections

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

Members of Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue were out about the town on June 8th doing Self Contained Breathing Apparatus training and contributing to the month-long ParticipACTION fitness challenge for the Paintearth Choosewell team, which currently sits in third place in the province. 
photo submitted
Members of Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue were out June 8th doing Self Contained Breathing Apparatus training

They were also contributing to the month-long ParticipACTION fitness challenge for the Paintearth Choosewell team

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Three calves were recently shot dead in Lacombe County near Mirror. (Photo from Facebook)
Calves shot and left for dead in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP investigating three shootings

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

FILE - This July 6, 2017 file photo shows prescription drugs in a glass flask at the state crime lab in Taylorsville, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Contaminants in generic drugs may cause long-term harm to DNA: B.C. researcher

Scientist says findings suggest high volume overseas facilities require strict regulation

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Most Read