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Last week the federal government delivered a budget largely focused on affordability, so a continued commitment that will make zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) more affordable and build more charging stations across Canada was welcome news.

Significant measures proposed in Budget 2022 include a $900 million in investments toward a goal of adding 50,000 charging stations across the country, $1.7 billion to extend incentives for the Zero-Emission Vehicles Program until March 2025, and broadening eligibility under the program to include more vehicle models.

Overall, the measures are a positive step in the right direction. However, we believe if Canada is to reach targets established in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada’s Next Steps to Clean Air and a Strong Economy, and put us on track toward a goal that requires all light duty cars and passenger trucks to be zero emission by 2035, more must be done.

In advance of the federal budget, the presidents of Canada’s three major automotive trade associations-the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, and Global Automakers of Canada, addressed elements needed to ensure the federal government’s zero emissions vehicle sales targets can realistically be met, in their initiative titled Road to 2035.

The associations believe the ambitious targets are achievable – but only through more immediate and aggressive actions:

  1. Triple consumer incentives: Leading ZEV jurisdictions have shown that consumer purchase incentives are the single most powerful driver of ZEV adoption.
  2. Expand iZEV eligibility: Approximately 80 per cent of new vehicles sales in Canada are of SUVs and pick-up trucks. To make ZEVs accessible and affordable for all Canadians, expand the iZEV eligibility parameters to apply to a larger range of ZEVs coming to market.
  3. Commit to regulatory alignment with the United States: Decoupling Canada from the integrated North American automotive market with a redundant and unnecessary ZEV sales mandate would reaffirm Canada’s commitment to regulatory alignment with the federal United States to achieve our shared ZEV sales goals.
  4. Commit to building four million public chargers to support 40 million ZEVs (1 public charger per 10 ZEVs on the road): Canada will require millions of publicly accessible chargers to achieve its ZEV targets.
  5. Commit to building street charging stations in urban centres: Home charging is not a viable option for the one-third of Canadians who live in multi-unit residential buildings or dwellings without access to a driveway or garage. A commitment to build four million publicly accessible chargers is required for publicly accessible street Level 2 charging infrastructure for Canadians in urban centres.
  6. Commit to building hydrogen fuelling stations for Fuel Cell Vehicles:The development and advancement of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles lags the development of electric vehicles. However, it is anticipated that hydrogen fuel cells will be a key technology in the near future to reduce emissions for primarily commercial applications.
  7. Eliminate the luxury tax for ZEVs: Implementing a federal luxury tax on ZEVs works against efforts by automakers to boost ZEV sales and threatens Canada’s ability to achieve the 2035 sales target.

As of March 31st, the Zero-Emission Vehicles Program has helped Canadians purchase or lease over 141,000 new ZEVs, while more than 25,000 new chargers and 19 hydrogen stations around the country have been approved. On these points, we need to acknowledge the leadership of government. However, there is a long road ahead to achieving the kind of success we all want 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 [email protected]