Hyundai Canada president calls for EV ecosystem “to pull everyone together”
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Mar 14, 2024
Sami Haj-Assaad

Meeting EV adoption targets requires more collaboration in the ecosystem and mandates for chargers as well as vehicle sales, says Hyundai Canada president Don Romano

While the Korean automaker is planning 17 new battery-electric vehicles globally by 2030, EV adoption requires more collaboration, says Hyundai Canada president Don Romano Photo: Hyundai

Meeting EV adoption targets requires more collaboration in the ecosystem and mandates for chargers as well as vehicle sales, says Hyundai Canada president Don Romano

It’s no secret the electric vehicle sector has been beset by a challenging mix of news in the past six months.

New EV registrations in Canada keep trending upward, but global forecasts suggest overall sales in 2024 won’t grow as fast as they did in 2023.

On the supply side, the market is coping with price swings (both up and down), and decisions by some automakers, like Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen, to scale back near-term production.

However, one automaker that is sticking to its EV plan is Hyundai Motor Co.

Headshot of Don Romano
Don Romano, president and CEO, Hyundai Canada. Photo: Hyundai Canada

It is aiming to launch over 17 new battery-electric models globally by 2030, including 11 for Hyundai models and six for its Genesis luxury brand.

In an interview with Electric Autonomy, Hyundai Canada president and CEO Don Romano says there are plenty of reasons to continue with the automaker’s EV goals.

“Gasoline will eventually run out,” he says.

“2023 was the hottest year in recorded history. There’s enough data out there and you can look at it or ignore it. Whether it’s greenhouse gasses or limitations of fossil fuels, we’ll all eventually have to adopt EVs.”

Hyundai’s electric future

Romano acknowledges there continue to be bumps and challenges in the EV buyer’s sales journey. These include dealership education, supply chain constraints and price fluctuations.

“Growth is stagnating, but they’re still going in the right positive direction,” he tells Electric Autonomy. “You have to factor in, that this is just one point in time, we’re still getting growth in certain segments.”

The automaker currently offers three distinctly different EVs in the subcompact crossover Kona EV, the mid-size crossover IONIQ 5 and the IONIQ 6 sedan. Its Genesis luxury division also offers a trio of EVs: the Genesis Electrified GV70 and GV60 crossovers and the G80 executive sedan.

The electric GV70 and G80 were recently named the 2024 Electric Utility Vehicle of the Year and 2024 Electric Vehicle of the Year by the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada.

The Hyundai Canada wins came on the heels of the introduction of a government mandate to boost EV sales in Canada, which has garnered a mixed response from the industry.

Canada’s Electric Vehicle Availability Standard will require ZEV vehicles to consist of 20 per cent of an automaker’s new car sales in 2026, before bumping that number up to 60 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2035.

“There’s definitely angst behind the government getting involved,” Romano says. “It gets everyone’s dander up. No one wants to be told to do something.”

Romano admits the ZEV sales mandate has lofty goals, but also says that Hyundai is confident it can reach them.

“We’re aiming for the 2030 requirement based on our demand and supply curve,” he says, adding “with the products we have coming out, we’ll be okay.”

But he makes a point that EV adoption isn’t just on the automakers. “[Adoption] has to be done through demand,” he says. “Building them doesn’t mean they’ll come. If the demand isn’t there, it doesn’t matter what the government wants.”

Wider responsibility for adoption

To help encourage EV adoption, potential shoppers need easy answers to questions about core EV issues, like charging.

“If someone comes into a Hyundai dealer and asks, ‘Where do I charge?’ and I [could] say, ‘Any gas station,’ they’ll test drive the car,” he says.

While Hyundai is brewing up plenty of new EVs for the coming years, he says he would like to see the government spread its mandates around to other players, especially gas stations.

“If we get busy on the charging infrastructure then [widespread adoption] can be achievable,” he says.

“We are getting together with a handful of our competitors to build the Ionna charging infrastructure, but the government needs to go to everyone else like Shell, Petro and others to get chargers, too.”

He sums it up: “We need to pull everyone together. If the chargers aren’t mandated, then adoption won’t move as quickly. Then you have to question the 2035 mandate. The government needs to spread the mandates across the village. When we see everyone involved, adoption will grow.”

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