“Canadians are excited about electric cars and the chance to cut both fuel costs and pollution. It’s a win-win for commuters, and it’s why both interest—and perception of inevitability—keeps growing”, says Dan Woynillowicz, Policy Director at Clean Energy Canada.
Electric Vehicles Going Mainstream
A recent poll by Clean Energy Canada and Abacus Data shows that most Canadians (64%) want electric cars to become the majority of cars on the road, while almost three-quarters (75%) believe they will become mainstream—the new norm.
The confluence of concerns about climate change, air quality, and a sense that the technology is both greatly improved and more affordable suggest that the world may be poised for a remarkable acceleration of electric vehicles. ~ Bruce Anderson, Abacus Data
Increasingly, Canadians want their next vehicle to be electric and they’re looking to their government to help out. Government policy initiatives—purchase rebates, tax incentives, investing in charging stations—will encourage consumers to choose electric and also accelerate the speed of transition away from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles.
And based on the very recent federal budget, it will be easier and cheaper for Canadians to go electric. The Liberal government has announced a $300 million program over three years ($100 million/year) to offer a $5,000 incentive for EV buyers. The budget also includes $130 million over five years for recharging stations in multi-res buildings, workplaces and public parking locations.
One’s first reaction is to jump for joy at seeing our government finally take action toward the transition to a cleaner transportation platform. But let’s look at the details.
Doing the Math
The statistics surrounding the auto industry are staggering. There are 24.6 million road motor vehicles in Canada. Every year, automakers sell roughly 2 million new vehicles. Let’s do the math: $100 million per year divided by $5,000 (EV incentive) = 20,000 new electric units on the road—a mere 1 percent, yes 1%, of new vehicles sold annually. Conclusion: the federal plan to bolster EV sales is but a tiny, miniscule, nano baby-step in the right direction. It is almost laughable when compared to the billions directed to the fossil fuel industry.
Elizabeth May, a past winner of the parliamentarian of the year award, sums up the climate measures in the budget in one word: pathetic. “There’s about $1.4 billion over five years, compared to spending $4.5 billion on a leaky pipeline,” she said in reference to the Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan project now owned by Canadian taxpayers. Furthermore, “We have the same climate target that we had under Stephen Harper,” says May. The Liberals have once again failed to show “climate leadership.”
A Weak Signal to the Auto Sector
The EV initiatives—incentives and infrastructure—contained in the budget precede Canada’s promised rollout of a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) strategy later this year. Unfortunately the announcement sends only a very timid signal to the auto sector to accelerate the production of electric vehicles and to begin producing the types of vehicles the public wants, namely SUVs, vans and trucks, in addition to sedans.
The Trudeau government is missing a rare opportunity to demonstrate a true commitment to move away from a fossil-fuel based auto industry.
This is yet another glaring reminder that Canada is first and foremost a petro-state.
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