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Canada to phase out new ICE vehicle sales by 2035

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Canada will phase out the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2035, a cabinet minister recently announced.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said last week that the nation has finalized its Electric Vehicle Availability Standard, requiring 100% of vehicle sales to be zero-emission within the next 11 years.

When announcing the switch to 100% electric vehicle (EV) sales, the federal government said the move is expected to reduce greenhouse gases by more than 360 tonnes by 2050.

“Many Canadians are increasingly eager to make the switch to cleaner transportation since it’s a win-win-win in savings, their heath, and the environment,” Guilbeault said in a press release. “Putting in place an Electric Vehicle Availability Standard fulfills a major climate commitment from our climate plan. Getting more electric vehicles on the road is another example of how we are taking climate action while helping make life more affordable.

“And our investments to position Canada as a significant player in the global electric vehicle manufacturing and battery supply chain shows how we are taking advantage of the economic opportunities provided by the emerging low-carbon economy.”

However, the announcement was also met with some criticism from the industry.

The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association said regulating zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales will not be possible without aggressive efforts to address vehicle affordability and charging infrastructure.

“Regulating vehicle sales will make life even more unaffordable for Canadians,” said Brian Kingston, Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association president and CEO. “Achieving 100% ZEV sales requires a comprehensive, long-term plan to support ZEV adoption that includes stronger consumer purchase incentives, a widespread public charging network, and enhancements to the electricity grid to prepare Canada for more ZEVs on the road.”

David Adams, Global Automakers of Canada president and CEO, said a thorough plan must be in place before the nation moves to a full ZEV sale transition.

“The automotive industry is fully committed to decarbonizing its products — there is no turning back,” Adams said. “With the ambitious ZEV targets we are anticipating in the final regulation, we will need a comprehensive and meaningful dialogue between government, the automakers, and utilities to ensure that we have the necessary ecosystem to support mass consumer adoption of ZEVs across all segments over short time horizons, along with data-driven progress monitoring on these necessary conditions.”

Under the new standard, interim targets include ensuring at least 20% of all sales are ZEV by 2026, with that figure rising to at least 60% by 2030. Canada’s move to phase out new ICE sales follows similar legislation by the United Kingdom, the European Union, and several U.S. states.

California became the nation’s first state to announce a 2035 ICE ban with the passing of its Advanced Clean Cars II rule in 2022. The rule “establishes a year-by-year roadmap so that by 2035 100% of new cars and light trucks sold in California will be zero-emission vehicles, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”

Since then, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Virginia, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Connecticut have enacted similar bans.

A number of automakers including Volvo, Buick, and Bentley, for example, have pledged to stop selling ICE vehicles by 2030.

However, some other automakers including General Motors (GM) and Ford have scaled back on their EV goals, executives said during recent Q3 2023 earnings calls.


Featured image of Don Valley Park and Lower Don River Trail in Toronto, Canada. (Courtesy of jimfeng/iStock)

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