Despite the popularity of electric vehicles, Canadian forecasts show no slowing of production for combustion-engine trucks and SUVs, leading environmental organizations to call for tighter federal regulations on automakers.
“Automakers in North America plan to build more big pickups and sport utility vehicles than electric vehicles well into the late 2020s,” writes Reuters, noting that the manufacturers are “chasing sales trends” that run counter to government goals of cutting emissions and boosting EV market share.
The number of trucks and SUVs owned by Canadians has grown 280% since they came into high demand during the early 1990s. Automakers naturally adapted to meet consumer preferences [and advertised lavishly to sustain them—Ed.], leading to both expanded production of large vehicles and a 25% increase in vehicle size since 1994, reports Équiterre. And those purchasers of oversized vehicles continue to prefer gas- and diesel-powered engines over electric.
In response to growing regulatory pressure, automakers are pledging timelines for a transition to EV production. One such pledge, issued in an August 5 statement from General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis (the operation previously known as Fiat-Chrysler), expressed the companies’ “shared aspiration to achieve sales of 40 to 50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles (battery electric, fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid vehicles) by 2030 in order to move [the U.S.] closer to a zero-emissions future consistent with Paris climate goals.”
That aspiration aligns with U.S. President Joe Biden’s target of increasing overall EV production by 30 to 40% in his country, which will require an annual production of seven million EVs by 2030. But actual production estimates for the companies show they expect to produce only 2.6 million vehicles in 2028, less than 20% of their total manufacturing, Reuters says.
Environmental Defence Canada says those commitments are “smokescreens” to distract from ongoing investment in gas-powered vehicles, reports Corporate Knights.
“The car companies make these promises over and over again, but they routinely fail to deliver, at least on scale. Meanwhile, they evade regulations and push ever more polluting SUVs on Canadians, all to pad the companies’ bottom line,” said EDC Programs Director Keith Brooks.
In a recent report [pdf], the organization calls for federal taxes to help restrict sales of gas-powered cars, along with incentives to encourage EV purchases. Furthermore, while some provinces have set zero-emission vehicle standards, Environmental Defence says a national standard could help distribute EV sales more evenly across Canada.
“Unless the federal government here in Canada decides to take more immediate action, car companies will continue to promote and sell gas-powered cars that could be on Canadian roads for decades to come,” writes Corporate Knights.