Ottawa unveils national mandate to enforce ZEV sales targets
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Dec 21, 2022
Emma Jarratt

The long-awaited federal ZEV sales mandate for light-duty vehicles will require auto makers and importers to meet ZEV sales quotas aligned with federal targets — 20 per cent in 2026, 60 per cent in 2030 and 100 per cent in 2035

Parliamentary Secretary Julie Dabrusin making the announcement at Plug’n Drive today. Photo: Plug’n Drive Twitter

The long-awaited federal ZEV sales mandate for light-duty vehicles will require auto makers and importers to meet ZEV sales quotas aligned with federal targets — 20 per cent in 2026, 60 per cent in 2030 and 100 per cent in 2035

Canada is getting a light-duty zero-emission vehicle sales mandate, after an announcement made by government officials and industry representatives in Vaughan, Ont., today.

Speaking to reporters from Plug’nDrive’s new Ontario Learning Centre, Parliamentary Secretary Julie Dabrusin announced Canada’s draft regulation, which would formalize the sales targets it set over 2021 and 2022 by creating a sales mandate.

“I’m pleased to announce that we’re moving forward with a regulated sales target that requires at least 20 per cent of new vehicles sold by 2026 to be zero emission, increasing that to 60 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2035,” says Dabrusin, on behalf of Environment and Climate Change minister Steven Guilbeault.

“We’re wanting to make sure we’re not only building these vehicles, we’re not only creating all of the pieces that go into making these vehicles, but we also are making sure that Canadians have access to them. We see in other jurisdictions [sales targets] work to make sure that we do get access.”

Introduction of a national ZEV mandate is a move long called for by EV advocates who say a sales target will improve consumer access to ZEVs and reduce wait times which, for some vehicles in certain provinces, are years long.

Vehicle manufacturers and dealers, on the other hand, have spent much of the past year arguing that massive expansion of charging infrastructure will do more to boost EV adoption than a sales mandate.

Industry reaction

Response to the government’s proposed mandate largely reflects those two positions.

“We have to make sure that Canadians have much easier access to EVs without having to wait anywhere between three months to three years. And this regulation will help resolve that issue,” says Daniel Breton, president and CEO of Electric Mobility Canada, at the press conference.

Breton went on to explain that a mandate would “create market predictability” and referenced comments made by Canada Infrastructure Bank’s managing director Charles Todd saying “ZEV sales regulation will help them and all industry have easier access to financing for EV-related projects.”

On the auto side, the prospect of a national ZEV mandate was greeted with more muted tones.

“The [Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association] supports Canada’s target of 100% zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) sales by 2035,” reads a statement released by Brian Kingston, President and CEO of the CVMA.

“We will however continue to call on Minister Guilbeault and the federal government to first address the needs of Canadians for accessible ZEV charging, a reliable national electricity grid, and competitive purchase incentives to help them afford the switch to electric transportation.”

Clean Energy Canada, too, commented on the news.

“Currently in Canada, the two provinces with their own version of a mandate — B.C. and Quebec — are kilometres ahead when it comes to EV sales. In B.C., one in five new cars sold in the third quarter of 2022 were electric, compared to one in 13 in Ontario,” says Ekta Bibra, senior policy advisor at Clean Energy Canada in a press release.

“This new Canada-wide policy is desperately needed to even the playing field and ensure that Canadians from coast to coast can access the cost-saving benefits of going electric.”

75-day consultation period

Before the national ZEV mandate is confirmed, the government has opened a consultation period to inform the legislation.

“Canadians are invited to submit their feedback on the proposed regulations during the 75-day consultation period. Final regulations are expected to be published in 2023,” reads the government’s press release.

Once consultations are completed, Canada will be among jurisdictions including European Union, the United Kingdom, and several American states to have implemented ZEV sales mandates.

“With Canada’s deep experience in auto-parts manufacturing, vehicle assembly, and with all of the critical minerals needed for batteries found here, Canada is well positioned to be a leader in making the vehicles that the world is looking to drive,” reads a statement from Minister Guilbeault.

“With ZEVs, we can cut pollution, create jobs, and make life more affordable for families across the country.”

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