New zero-emissions rules may limit electric car choice for most Canadians

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on November 19th, 2018

The federal and provincial governments in Canada are taking steps towards increasing the number of electronic and low-emissions vehicles on the roads. But as the CBC reports, the application of new rules may be a lateral move.

The “ZEV mandate” requires automakers to sell a certain number of electronic, low- and zero-emissions cars. To encourage them to meet this minimum, automakers are made to pay “royalties” when they fail to meet their quota.

The reason these quotas are deemed necessary is because automakers profit more from traditional gas-powered cars. While they usually sell for less, they are also usually cheaper to produce. Thus, most auto companies need to be incentivized, either through financial benefit or penalty, to produce and sell more zero- or low-emissions vehicles.

The problem, contends CBC’s Don Pittis, is that these rules are only being applied in Quebec. British Columbia is expected to soon become the second province to institute a minimum sales quota, but this still leaves eight provinces and three territories out of the deal.

Because the minimum number of sales applied to automakers is done at the national level, it means that only consumers in these two provinces are likely to have better access to a variety of low-cost no or low-emissions vehicles.

By concentrating sales in just two provinces, automakers have no incentive to provide most Canadian consumers with environmentally friendly options. It is not expected that the federal government will implement a nationwide mandate to rectify this issue.

Of course, as long as the demand for energy efficient vehicles is there, car producers will happily meet it. Right now, however, would-be consumers around Canada are given few options because most of the supply is being funnelled into Quebec and B.C.

While these jurisdictions may see an uptick in low-emissions vehicles, the opposite effect may actually occur where the policy leaves a dearth of options around the country.

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