Canadian automakers are jumping onboard the federal government’s updated climate plan and calling for an extensive “cash for clunkers” program to cut emissions and drive the shift to electric vehicles.
“Canada has a very high proportion of vehicles on the road that are 12 years or older,” writes Brian Kingston, CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), in a post for iPolitics. “Replacing a 20-year-old vehicle with new technology can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, on a like-to-like vehicle basis, by 30% or more, whether the consumer chooses a traditional gasoline engine or an EV.”
The automakers’ pitch for a big surge in new manufacturing and sales includes praise for the updated federal climate plan, released in mid-December by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“The government’s plan includes new spending to build more EV charging infrastructure, and money to renew the federal incentive program for consumers and fleets to buy zero-emission vehicles,” Kingston writes. “The bold decision to increase the price of carbon to C$170 per tonne by 2030 will also annually increase gasoline prices, further encouraging drivers to consider electric alternatives. And the government has focused on the need to align Canadian and American vehicle performance standards across our highly integrated North American industry.”
But with electric cars still accounting for only one-fifth of a percent of the national vehicle fleet, now is the time to “supercharge our efforts to entice drivers to buy EVs,” he adds. “Norway is a great example of how focusing on drivers is the best way to encourage them to buy EVs. Consumer incentives have been the cornerstone of Norway’s EV policy, with everything from tax exemptions and reductions on purchases and licencing, to free toll road access, free charging, and free parking for EV owners.”
In the absence of that kind of aggressive support, “EV purchases in Canada today only represent 3.5% of all new vehicle sales,” Kingston notes, and with the light-duty vehicle fleet only turning over at a rate of 7% per year, “Canada has a long way to go” to catch up to the world’s EV leaders. “If we truly want to accelerate change in the type of vehicles consumers own, we need to consider ways to renew the entire on-road fleet.”
Kingston acknowledges that the transition in Norway “has not come cheap,” with annual EV subsidies reaching hundreds of millions of dollars. But “options for new-vehicle technology are here to stay and expanding quickly,” he says. “Now it’s time to make this transition a reality for consumers.”