TORONTO — Government rebates aimed at encouraging consumers to purchase zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) won’t help Ottawa meet its carbon reduction targets, says Larry Hutchinson, president of Toyota Canada.
“If Canada wants to achieve meaningful carbon reductions by this sector by 2030, a single-minded focus on ZEVs is likely to cause us to miss that objective,” Hutchinson told a recent industry gathering ahead of the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto. “It’s too expensive, too consuming of finite resources and it misses the point that carbon emissions are the result of the total number of carbon-powered kilometres traveled by the entire on-road fleet each year.”
As part of its bid to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, Ottawa implemented an iZEV program last spring, offering up to $5,000 in rebates on EVs meeting certain criteria.
But, ZEV sales comprise less than three per cent of new-vehicle sales, Hutchinson said, adding car buyers aren’t embracing EVs.
“There’s a role for government incentives, but they should be technology neutral,” he said. “The best approach is to continue to focus on a strategy aimed at reducing overall carbon reductions.
“Our message to government is set the goals, but don’t call the play because we, as automakers, know best how to drive down costs and get competitive vehicles into the market,” he said. “Every automaker has their own game plan. Each one is slightly different. Some include hydrogen fuel cell, some prefer battery electric, others like hybrids and plug-in hybrids. In the end, the Canadian drivers will decide who the winner is.”
Hutchinson also noted that there are two million vehicles on Canadian roads that are older than 20 years.
“Not only are those vehicles grossly less fuel efficient, they’re also much higher emissions polluters … We need to get them off the road.”
While he didn’t specifically call for such measures as vehicle scrappage programs, governments in the past have implemented Cash for Clunkers plans, which offered drivers incentives to replace older vehicles.