Industry to government: EV goals need more money

Implicit in the auto industry’s persistent pleas to government to ramp up both electric-vehicle rebates and charging infrastructure is skepticism over whether Ottawa will be able to meet its EV sales targets.

Admittedly, federal and provincial governments have put a lot of money into both rebates and infrastructure.

Ottawa, for example, offers incentives of up to $5,000 for eligible EVs. It also has committed $1.7 billion to extend the government’s iZEV program until March 2025 and to expand the types of eligible vehicle models to include more vans, trucks and utility vehicles.

The last federal budget pledged $500 million in investments for the Canada Infrastructure Bank, and $400 million in additional funding for the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program, both of which will support Ottawa’s goal of adding 50,000 EV chargers to Canada’s network.

As well, a growing number of provinces now offer EV rebates.

But automakers, which are pouring billions into the development of EVs, say more needs to be done, particularly at the federal level.

“Where this falls apart is with the ambition and messaging we’re getting from [the federal government] around the sales targets,” said Brian Kingston, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), which represents the Detroit Three. “They want to get to 100 per cent EV sales by 2035. That is not very far off.

“If that’s going to happen, they’re going to have to be much more ambitious in terms of the amount of funds they’re going to put behind this and [the] speed of infrastructure build-out.”

Along with the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) and the Global Automakers of Canada, which represents overseas automakers, the CVMA recently launched its “EV Readiness Dashboard.”

“We’re trying to illustrate the incentive and charging gaps across Canada that have to be addressed if EV adoption is going to keep pace with targets the government has set,” Kingston said during the July 8 Automotive News Canada Podcast.

Kingston estimates that Canada will need 1.6 million EV chargers to combat widespread worries about range anxiety. And to overcome the price gap between more expensive EVs and gasoline-powered vehicles, the industry is urging Ottawa to triple its EV rebate to $15,000.

With rising inflation, the price of an EV is becoming even more worrisome, Kingston said.

“The median income in Canada is about $56,000 a year,” he said. “Yet the price gap between ICE [internal-combustion engine] and EVs is in excess of $20,000

“There aren’t many Canadians with $20,000 to put into this transition.”

The message to government: Either pony up in a big way or rethink sales mandates for an industry that can’t — on its own — overcome the barriers that stand in the way of mass EV adoption.

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