OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is speeding up its goal for when it wants to see all light-duty vehicles sold in Canada to be electric, but it won’t legislate the means to reach its objective. At least not, yet.
Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced today that by 2035 all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in the country will be zero-emission vehicles.
Until now the government had set 2040 as the target for when it wants to see all passenger vehicles sold to be powered by this technology.
Alghabra said that if required, the federal government “will pursue additional mandatory zero-emissions vehicle measures to ensure we get to our 2035 goal.”
He said the government is looking at the expansion of incentives, qualifying the purchase of used ZEVs for incentives, investing in charging and more.
“Let me just say, our target is ambitious, undoubtedly, but it is a must,” Alghabra said of the new electric vehicle target.
“We believe that it’s doable. It needs determination, it needs focus, it needs effort.”
The Global Automakers of Canada, which represents 15 overseas car companies that sell vehicles in Canada, criticized the plan.
“We share the government’s ultimate objective of carbon elimination but find today’s announcement lacking in the details that will be required for Canada to successfully make the transition to 100 per cent ZEV sales by 2035,” GAC President David Adams said in a statement.
Adams said the industry has already made plans to move to carbon neutrality by or before 2050.
The industry globally is investing over $330 billion to bring ZEVs to market and GAC members will have more than 125 models in the Canadian market by 2025, he said.
The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association says it’s ready to work with the federal government when it comes to hitting the target, but the association would like to see policy with more teeth.
“Achieving this target requires ambitious policy actions from government to encourage and support Canadians to make the transition to ZEVs by building a comprehensive charging network across Canada, enhancing consumer purchase incentives for ZEVs and educating Canadians about the benefits of ZEVs,” CVMA CEO Brian Kingston said in a statement.
Alghabra cited a recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that says by 2035 nearly all new light-duty vehicle sales would have to be electric to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century.
According to the IEA, more than 20 countries to date have announced the full phase-out of internal combustion engine (ICE) car sales over the next 10‑30 years, including emerging economies such as Cabo Verde, Costa Rica and Sri Lanka. Moreover, more than 120 countries (accounting for around 85 per cent of the global road vehicle fleet, excluding two/three-wheelers) have announced economy-wide net-zero emissions pledges that aim to reach net zero in the coming few decades.
The Liberal government has already poured at least $300 million into a rebate program that offers consumers a break when they buy electric in hopes to get more zero-emission vehicles on the road.
Federal officials have warned that wasn’t going to be enough to reach the federal government’s first target of electric cars making up 10 per cent of sales by 2025.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said with the tougher goal the country would work with the United States on fuel efficiency and consult with stakeholders on new regulatory measures.
He said harmonized rules would driver more accelerated ZEV deployment in the two countries.
“We are not alone in committing to 2035. This is absolutely where the world is going. This where the world needs to go,” Wilkinson said. “We must reduce our emissions.”
The Canadian Press and Greg Layson of Automotive News Canada contributed to this report.