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The federal government has established ambitious targets for the sale of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) over the next decade and beyond. However, a recent survey conducted by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants suggests that a level of creatively may be required to help them achieve those goals.

Canada has established the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada’s Next Steps to Clean Air and a Strong Economy which includes a goal that requires all new light duty cars and passenger trucks sold be zero emission by 2035.

ZEVs represented 5.2% of total new motor vehicle registrations across Canada for 2021, and while this is positive news, it also demonstrates there is significant work to do to reach these 2035 targets.

Any number of factors may influence consumers and the study by Desrosiers was conducted to ask Canadians what they believe their federal government should do to increase ZEV sales.

The Desrosiers study of 1,000 Canadian vehicle owners illustrates the provincial divides in opinions about ZEVs and what government should do to reach established sales targets. However, more than two-thirds (68.7%) agree that government needs to “increase consumer incentives and rebates on zero-emission vehicles.”

Improving the number of charging stations across the country was important to over half (53.7%) of respondents. Limiting the amount of internal combustion engine vehicles in the market was significantly less popular, with only 21.6% of respondents in agreement.

Prior to this spring’s federal budget, three of Canada’s major automotive trade associations – the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, and Global Automakers of Canada – addressed key elements of that should be included as part of the federal strategy, and recommendations included:

  1. Triple consumer incentives, which are the single most powerful driver of ZEV adoption
  2. Expand IZEV eligibility to apply to a larger range of ZEVs coming to market.
  3. Commit to building four million public chargers to support 40 million ZEVs.
  4. Commit to building publicly accessible street charging stations in in urban centers where home charging is not a viable option for many because they don’t have a driveway or garage.
  5. Commit to building hydrogen fuelling stations for Fuel Cell Vehicles, a key technology that is anticipated soon to reduce emissions for primarily commercial applications.
  6. Eliminate the luxury tax for ZEVs as this works against efforts by automakers to boost ZEV sales and threatens Canada’s ability to achieve the 2035 sales target.

The three associations have also recently launched an EV Readiness Dashboard, as part of the Road to 2035 campaign. The dashboard will help consumers, the industry, and all of Canada track progress on the important adoption of EVs, including how government incentives stack up across the country, as well as the number of EV charging stations currently available per EV on the road.

To give credit where it’s due, the Zero-Emission Vehicles Program has helped Canadians purchase or lease over 141,000 new ZEVs (as of March 2022), while funding for more than 25,000 new chargers and 19 hydrogen stations around the country have been approved.

There is a long road ahead to achieving these targets; however, success is possible with industry and government working together, because it’s good for government, good for the economy and good for the environment.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca