How realistic are campaign promises around electric vehicles?


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Hamilton, Ont. — All except one party vying for votes in Monday’s election are talking about transitioning from gas-powered vehicles to electric zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs).

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It is a significant step forward in meeting Canada’s commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions causing the climate crisis, as transport accounts for about 25 percent of the country’s emissions. Canada has committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The big question is whether the goals of adopting electric vehicles can be achieved.

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The Liberals have vowed to ensure that at least one of all passenger vehicles sold in Canada will be ZEVs by 2030 and will account for 100 percent of their sales by 2035.

To get there, liberals will offer $5,000 in incentives for ZEV buyers and build 50,000 charging stations. Its platform also promises to double the tax credits available to mining companies exploring the minerals needed to make batteries for electric vehicles.

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The NDP wants to see all new car sales go electric by 2035 and promises to waive federal sales tax on ZEVs and provide incentives of up to $15,000 per family for vehicles made in Canada. The party will also offer a discount on electric charger installation costs for those who buy new or used ZEVs.

The Conservatives say they will require that all light-duty vehicles sold in Canada be zero-emissions by 2030 and promise to upgrade the country’s electricity grid and charging infrastructure. The party also pledges $1 billion in electric vehicle manufacturing and $1 billion in hydrogen production.

Conservatives are also committed to updating Canadian building codes to mandate charging stations and that every federal or public building with parking have charging stations by 2025.

The Green Party promises to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2030. It also promises federal grants and rebates for buyers of electric vehicles.

Bloc Quebecois will introduce a law requiring car dealerships to always have an adequate inventory of electric vehicles.

The People’s Party of Canada platform does not specifically address electric vehicles, but says it will “withdraw from the Paris Agreement and leave unrealistic greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.” PPC will also end subsidies for green technology.

Joanna Kyriazis, senior policy adviser for Clean Energy Canada, says the Liberal platform is what her organization hoped to hear, though she points out that it was the Conservative Party that first set sales targets for electric vehicles by 2030 in its climate plan. was issued. Spring.

“We really believe it played a big part in advancing the goals in the Liberal plan,” she said in a phone interview with from Ottawa.

He said the NDP scheme is short on details about the level of funding for infrastructure and charging consumer incentives.


At least for now, we have few electric vehicles on our roads. According to Electric Mobility Canada, there were just 170,000 electric vehicles on the roads at the end of 2020, less than one percent of the total 23 million light-duty vehicles.

But the sales figures of electricity are increasing continuously.

In 2020, 54,353 new ZEVs (hybrid and full electric) were registered in Canada, accounting for 3.52 percent of new sales. According to Statistics Canada figures. It was 2.91 per cent in 2019 and less than one per cent in 2016.

the numbers were up In the first quarter of this year, ZEV accounted for 4.6 per cent of sales.

A survey by KPMG Canada The report, released in February, found that 68 percent of those planning to buy a vehicle in the next five years are likely to buy a fully electric or hybrid model. But several respondents said they are still concerned about the availability of charging stations, battery life, driving range and purchase price.

Globally, electric vehicles account for four per cent of passenger cars and one per cent in vans and trucks. According to data from BloombergNEF.

Most countries are not on track to bring road transport emissions to zero by mid-century, and new car sales will need to make up 60 percent of ZEVs by 2030, the report said. At current adoption rates, the world would be 34. percent till then.

The shift to electric won’t happen overnight, but it’s coming fast, said Peter Heitz, national sector leader for automotive KPMG in Canada, in a report released in 2020 looking at the future of the country’s auto sector.

“I’m not sure people will appreciate the dramatic change that’s coming. It’s like transitioning from horses and wagons to cars. Everything is going to be different.”

When the federal government announced at the end of June that it was advancing its goal of fully moving to electric vehicles from 2040 to 2035, Transport Minister Omar Algabra said at the time that the goal was ambitious but necessary.

“We believe it’s doable. It requires determination, it requires attention, it requires effort.”

He said Ottawa had already invested at least $600 million in an incentive program that offered discounts of up to $5,000 for a fully electric vehicle and up to $2,500 for a hybrid.

But the Liberal government had already said that even as discounts are popular, they will not be enough to reach its first goal – electric vehicles making up 10 percent of sales by 2025.


Norway is the “poster child” for more than 50 percent of electric vehicle adoption and is a sign for Canada that what is possible in a relatively short time period, says Nino Di Cara, founder and president of Electric Autonomy Canada, to Electric. A news platform covering autonomous and on-demand mobility.

A big part of the equation is whether Canadians are ready to adopt an electric vehicle the next time they buy a car. Di Cara thinks they are – or at least will be.

Di Cara says that while the climate crisis generally drives the discussion about ZEVs, what is often overlooked is that it is just better technology and better experience.

“Electric vehicles are easier, quieter and cheaper to drive,” he said during a phone interview with from Toronto.

“As people see more in their neighborhood, they want them and the old technology will fade away, like smartphones did for flip phones. That consumer tipping point is approaching.”

They say that until that critical point is reached, the market needs encouragement and leadership from the government.

While actual sales numbers are “growing more slowly than we’d like”, says Kyriazis at Clean Energy Canada, estimates are that electric vehicles will reach price parity with their gas counterparts in the mid-2020s and this is a Will be a “game changer”. “

The range of the battery has also improved significantly, with many models covering a range of 400 km on a single charge.

It’s also important that most automakers have multiple electric models in the pipeline that will drive demand, especially in the SUV, crossover and truck segments, which is what most Canadians want, she says.

On the charging side, investment is needed to ensure that people living in condos, apartments and homes in urban areas without private garages or driveways can plug in their cars.

It also means building stations in rural areas and in publicly accessible areas, Kiryazis says.

“There are a lot of questions. Do we convert gas stations into charging places? Or do we build community charging hubs in schools, churches and community centers? There’s a lot of creativity in placing them in tourist areas or parks or even commercial areas. Where you can enjoy your time while charging your car.

In 2020, there were approximately 7,700 public charging stations in Canada, of which only 500 were capable of delivering a full charge in about 20 minutes, According to KPMG report

“It’s a chicken and egg problem. But governments need to overcome this mindset and invest in infrastructure that will bring consumers together…”

Cara Claireman, CEO of Plug ‘n Drive, a Toronto-based nonprofit, says it will take “a supercharged national effort” to get Canadians behind the wheels of electric vehicles.

In a blog post in June, Clareman said consumer awareness of the savings in fuel and maintenance is not strong, even though the change from gas to electric “could save the average driver $1,500 a year on fuel alone.”

Canada has all the pieces to achieve its goals, says Di Cara, which include an electricity grid largely powered by hydro, nuclear, solar and wind, a strong automotive sector, clean technology and a future. A lot of research into K vehicles, and a rich domestic supply of highly valuable metals and minerals like lithium and nickel that go into making lithium-ion batteries.

It really comes down to ambition, says Di Cara. Norway is showing that a rapid transition is realistic.

“So, as Canadians, do we want to be at the forefront of this or do we want to hold back because it’s tough?”

Ultimately, Kyriazis says, there is no other option than to move to electric vehicles to deal with the worst of the climate crisis.

“That’s where the whole world is going.”

Adam Ward. edited by


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