Hyundai Canada CEO Don Romano says he would be able to deliver Kona electric subcompact crossovers to potential customers in “a couple of days” were it not for the lack of EV charging stations.
“Supply [of EVs] is not the problem. The problem is demand.”
Global automakers, he notes, are investing more than $300 billion into EV technology. Until governments focus on overcoming range anxiety, there won’t be enough customers to meet current supply, let alone future supply of EVs.
“The industry is headed toward a brick wall.”
Romano wants Canada to follow Germany’s lead and require all gas stations, retail outlets and homebuilders to install fast-charging EV stations.
“It’s part of our routine,” he said. “You drive into a Petro-Canada and buy your Snickers bar; meanwhile, the car is getting charged in minutes. That’s where the magic is going to happen in this industry.”
Romano’s concerns are backed by a new KPMG study showing that seven in 10 Canadians who plan to buy a new vehicle within the next five years are leaning toward an EV, but battery life and range remain persistent worries. The study puts the onus on both governments and automakers “to not only to meet the expected surge in EV sales but to invest heavily in the necessary infrastructure.”
Urging Ottawa to impose EV-infrastructure requirements on the country’s nearly 12,000 retail filling stations could boost the case for further government intervention in the form of a national zero emission-vehicles (ZEV) mandate, setting minimum EV production standards on automakers.
The federal government has so far resisted mandatory measures, opting instead to coax both consumers and industry with incentives to help meet its carbon-reduction targets. But pressure for a ZEV mandate is mounting. Electric Mobility Canada (EMC) has long called for a national standard to spark EV production and sales, which currently make up about three per cent of the new-vehicle market.
EVs are in short supply, particularly in provinces outside Quebec and British Columbia, which have rebate programs as well as ZEV mandates, says EMC President Daniel Breton.
While EV chargers at filling stations will help combat range anxiety, it’s only part of the solution, he says.
But a robust charging network can’t happen soon enough. An EMC study predicts price parity between EVs and internal-combustion vehicles by 2025 as new technology lowers the cost of batteries.
“Government policy is out of sync with the pace of technological progress,” says Romano, who is often reminded of that gap when he looks out the window of his Markham, Ont., office. The parking lot is home to four EV chargers, free to the public.
Invariably, Romano will see the arrival of a flatbed truck hauling a stalled EV.