Electric vehicle sales grew almost 60% last year but they need to pick up the pace even more to hit the new federal sales mandates expected by the end of this year.
Statistics Canada released the latest quarterly data on new vehicle registrations last Thursday, showing that in the fourth quarter of 2021, plug-in cars and SUVs made up more than 6% of new vehicle registrations for the first time, The Canadian Press reports.
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Across the whole year, 86,000 battery-electric and plug-in hybrids were sold, accounting for 5.2% of new registrations. That compares with 54,000 in 2020, accounting for 3.5% of total vehicle registrations. Five years ago, electric vehicles made up fewer than one in 100 new cars sold. In 2021, they made up one in 20.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault intends to mandate that by 2026 electric vehicles make up one in five new passenger vehicles sold. By 2030, it must be at least half, and by 2035, all new vehicles sold must run on batteries. He is currently developing a national sales quota system that will impose penalties on dealerships or car companies that don’t sell enough electric vehicles.
“Switching to an electric vehicle is one of the most impactful things Canadians can do to help fight climate change,” Guilbeault said in a statement to CP.
Passenger cars and trucks produced more than half the greenhouse gas emissions from road transportation in 2020, and more than one-tenth of Canada’s total emissions that year.
Quebec and British Columbia have already set provincial sales mandates and have had purchase price rebates for years. They also lead the pack in overall sales, with 71% of all new electric vehicles in Canada registered in those two provinces in 2021. In the last five years, three in every four electric vehicles were registered in Quebec or B.C.
In 2021, electric vehicles made up 9% of new registrations in Quebec and 11.6% in B.C. Ontario was next highest, at 3%.
Every province saw growth in electric vehicle registrations in 2021. But that growth isn’t on pace to meet Guilbeault’s new targets. At their current pace, EVs will reach approximately 15 to 16% of new registrations by the end of 2026.
The national sales mandate is expected to help, but Guilbeault said Thursday the government is investing heavily to help the Canadian auto industry transform to pump out electric vehicles, while funding more charging stations and expanding the federal rebate program for electric vehicles.
Earlier in the month, Canary Media dug into the disconnects (albeit in the United States) in getting auto dealers excited about selling electric vehicles alongside internal combustion. And Reuters warned that jobs will be at risk among Canadian auto parts manufacturers and repair shops, with mechanics particularly at risk if manufacturers like Tesla maintain a “closed system” that determines who can repair vehicles that already have fewer moving parts and maintenance needs.
While Tesla says it has an “open-source philosophy for much of its patented intellectual property,” Reuters said, the company lobbied against “right to repair” legislation in Massachusetts that would allow typical mechanics to work on the onboard computers in the company’s cars. But Jamie Keeler, mechanic and sole proprietor at Keeler Automotive in Cannington, Ontario, said customers should be able to choose who works on their vehicles.
“If you’re a licenced mechanic, you should be able to fix anything that’s on the road, and have access to the software to do it,” he told Reuters.
On Friday, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced the government will expand that rebate program so more expensive SUVs and pickup trucks coming onto the electric vehicle market can qualify. The rules will now include popular models like the Ford Mustang Mach-E but leave out higher-priced rides like the Tesla Model 3 and the Ford F-150 Lightning, Clean Energy Canada reports.
“Canada’s new rebate caps—now $55,000 for cars and $60,000 for large vehicles—strike the right ‘Goldilocks’ balance. In short, they’re high enough to qualify a wide range of vehicles while still being low enough to encourage automakers to sell more affordable EVs into the Canadian market,” said Joanna Kyriazis, the organization’s clean transportation program manager.
Since the rebates began flowing in May 2019, more than 141,000 vehicles have qualified for up to C$5,000 off the purchase price. As of March 31, $611 million had gone to the rebates.
The recent federal budget added $1.7 billion to keep those rebates flowing for another few years and raise the maximum purchase price for qualifying vehicles.
The main body of this report was first published by The Canadian Press on April 21, 2022.
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