The Icefield Parkway in Jasper National Park, Canada
The Icefield Parkway in Jasper National Park, Canada

In a newly released 32-point plan, the industry member association Electric Mobility Canada calls on the federal government to take more urgent action to accelerate zero-emission mobility adoption, saying Ottawa’s 2035 deadline for 100 per cent passenger ZEV sales is too slow to meet climate targets

On the heels of several major federal government announcements ranging from significant investments for zero emission vehicle charging, to a call for a net-zero grid, to mandating 100 per cent ZEV sales by 2035, Electric Mobility Canada (EMC) is making an urgent plea to the government: do more.

Against the backdrop of the COP26 conference, another year filled with innumerable global climate disasters and reports from the United Nations and World Health Organization sounding the alarm on the climate crisis, EMC lays out a 32-point roadmap to more aggressive adoption of zero emission vehicles aimed at securing Canada’s ability to meet its climate targets.

“If we want to reach net zero we have to do a lot more,” says Daniel Breton, president and CEO of Electric Mobility Canada in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.

“We have this idea that somehow we were kind of leaders, which we are not”

Daniel Breton, CEO, Electric Mobility Canada

“We have this idea that somehow we were kind of leaders, which we are not. Historically, per capita, Canada is the number one country in the world for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Our light-duty fleet is the most polluting in the world regarding GHG emissions. There’s so much that we have to do to meet our climate targets. The idea here is to be ambitious.”

Action across the board

EMC’s action plan is comprehensive, if not downright (and, arguably, rightly so) alarmist about the need for the government to implement swift measures.

From proposing a tax levied on the most-polluting vehicles on the road and making fleet transitions more affordable; to making one million multi-unit residential building parking spots charger ready and changing building codes to require charging infrastructure; to bumping up the federal deadline for reaching 100 per cent ZEV sales to 2030 and requiring government officials to be educated on electric vehicles, EMC’s plan demonstrates there is work to be done in nearly every corner of society.

“The best-case scenario was for us to make sure that all the parties at the federal level and the provincial levels understand that there’s an urgency about accelerating electric mobility from light- to medium- to heavy-duty to off-road vehicles,” says Breton.

Daniel Breton EMC
Daniel Breton, President and CEO of EMC

“To me, the first reason why would we put this together is to educate elected officials and to show them that we have the expertise and the experience to help them reach those EV adoption targets and we need to be more ambitious to reach our climate targets.”

The report is already on the desks of the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and new minister of environment, Steven Guilbeault, says Breton. No officials have responded yet, but EMC has been in “interesting” talks recently with the Ontario government, says Breton, and is engaged with Quebec and British Columbia officials especially, as well as a roster of federal policy makers and influencers.

Don’t let bad history repeat itself

For Breton, the critical element to a successful EV transition is a binding federal mandate for a ZEV sales target by 2030. To support this point, though each conversation EMC holds with government officials is different based on the needs and concerns of the particular area, there is a common cautionary tale that seems to weave its way into the discussion.

“Ten years ago, the federal government and the government of Ontario both invested $70 million to assemble the Toyota Rav4 EV in Ontario,” recalls Breton.

“Because of the fact that there was no rebate and no mandate in Ontario, but there was one in the U.S. —namely, in California — all the Toyota Rav4 EVs were sent to California. So, you could live two kilometres away from the plant [in Woodstock, Ont.], but you couldn’t buy a vehicle that had been assembled with Canadian taxpayers money. We could very well end up with the same problem if we don’t come up with a stronger ZEV mandate at the federal level.”

The problem highlighted by the critical words “stronger ZEV mandate” are twofold: the first is a valid concern about even more supply issues with EVs. It’s a problem most jurisdictions in Canada have been grappling with for years as increasingly more EV stock is siphoned away south of the border, leaving potential Canadian buyers “getting the crumbs,” says Breton.

And the second perhaps issue is that to make a mandate strong it must be binding and more rebates must apply to more vehicles — light-duty passenger by 2030 and 2040 “at the latest” for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

“If we want to become a leader in electric mobility in Canada, we have to make sure that the rebates are for a wider range of vehicles otherwise a lot of people that want SUVs or pickup trucks won’t have access to these rebates, which makes no sense because they’re the worst polluters. If you don’t come up with the rebates it’s naive to think that you’ll get the cars.”

To read EMC’s full action plan visit here.