Before joining Automotive News Canada, I covered general news, a lot of it political — at every level.
So, I’ve heard and read a lot of silly comments.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s latest on why we need a federal mandate to force people to buy zero-emissions vehicles might just take the cake.
“We know Canadians want to be able to buy electric vehicles; that’s why mandates are so important.”
At first blush, that comment makes almost zero sense. I found myself asking: If Canadians want something so badly, as the prime minister suggests, why is he mandating the very thing we supposedly want?
That’s like saying: “Canadians want blue jeans, so we have to mandate blue jeans.”
If Canadians want electric vehicles, trust me when I say that automakers will sell them electric vehicles. They’re in the business of making vehicles people want to buy.
And, in this millennium, they’re also in the business of being good corporate citizens. Building green vehicles goes a long way toward building a younger customer base. In fact, a KPMG study last year found that 77 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 34 (and 76 per cent aged 35 to 44) say they would consider an EV for their next purchase. No mandate necessary, by the way.
Automakers have been inching toward an all-electric future for a while now. Volkswagen pledged in 2021 that it would be an all-electric company by 2035. Again, no mandate necessary. General Motors also said it is working toward a similar deadline.
By the end of 2023, there will be 120 EV models available for purchase in Canada, according to Brian Kingston, head of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.
And if you think automakers have the ability to design, develop, assemble, market and deliver those 120 models in the short time since Trudeau began trial-ballooning the idea of a ZEV sales mandate, you don’t really know how slowly the auto industry actually works.
No, we don’t need a mandate to force automakers to make ZEVs. And we don’t need one to force consumers to buy ZEVs.
The one thing we need is inventory, which has been hampered by one crisis after another since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic in 2020.
And if our prime minister is suggesting a mandate can fix a global microchip shortage, supply bottlenecks and the lack of lithium mineshe’s wrong. Dead wrong.
Canadians will buy their fair share of ZEVs when they’re available. No mandate necessary.