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

Dooris Raad was last seen in South Surrey’s Ocean Park neighbourhood on June 7. (Surrey RCMP photo)
(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of May 31

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

The Lower Mainland Green Team and students from Earl Marriott Secondary remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Green Team returns to White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park to monitor previous work

Environmental volunteers, South Surrey students remove invasive species

People were lined up around the fields at a drop-in vaccine clinic at Newton Athletic Park on Tuesday (April 27, 2021), which is one of the high-transmission neighbourhoods that are being given vaccine priority. This clinic was one of at least three to open in the city on Tuesday. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s weekly cases continue to drop, push for 80% vaccination rate citywide

BCCDC reports 263 cases for Surrey the week of May 30 to June 5

Friends of Bear Creek Park held a ‘yellow-ribbon event’ on Saturday (June 12, 2021), with protesters at 84th Avenue and King George Boulevard and 84th Avenue and 140th Street. People were asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard “to celebrate and to show support for our trees in Bear Creek Park.” (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Protesters hold ‘yellow-ribbon’ event at Surrey’s Bear Creek Park

People asked to tie a yellow ribbon in their yard to ‘show support for our trees’

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read