In a groundbreaking move that signals a significant shift in Canada’s automotive landscape, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has unveiled the nation’s latest electric vehicle (EV) mandates, poised to roll out over the next decade. By 2035, Canada will mandate that all new vehicle sales must be either electric or plug-in hybrid.

Guilbeault, in a resolute tone, declared, “Today, we’re embarking on the next phase of our vision—a robust electric vehicle availability standard that propels Canada towards a future where all new light-duty vehicle sales are electric or plug-in hybrid by 2035. We’re setting ambitious interim targets, beginning with a mandate for 20% of all new vehicle sales to be EVs by 2026.”

The driving force behind this initiative, as articulated by the minister, is to overcome one of the primary obstacles preventing consumers from embracing electric vehicles—their limited availability in the market. Guilbeault contends that eliminating traditional gas-powered vehicles from the Canadian market will ensure that prospective car buyers receive their rightful share of the global EV supply.

“The standard directly addresses the key hurdle facing EV adoption—the limited availability and prolonged waiting times. We intend to achieve this by increasing the influx of electric cars into the Canadian market, rather than relying on imports from the U.S. or other countries with similar targets. It ensures that Canadians have unhindered access to their fair share of the global supply of these vehicles. Furthermore, we are introducing an early credit system to incentivize automakers to expedite the introduction of EVs into the market, possibly as early as next year, while also expanding charging infrastructure,” the minister elaborated.

Canada’s decisive move towards electric vehicles closely mirrors regulatory actions seen in select U.S. states. California, for instance, has committed to a mandate that requires all new cars sold in the state to be electric by 2035. Reports indicate that at least 17 other states across the nation are following suit, either partially or entirely.

While politicians and automakers are lauding the EV agenda, it appears that consumer demand has yet to catch up with the supply. Consequently, a coalition of car dealers has penned an open letter addressed to President Joe Biden, urging him to exercise caution in implementing EV mandates that they believe do not align with free-market principles.

In their letter, the car dealers argue that the current state of the EV market remains underdeveloped, asserting that it is premature to enact such regulations. They cite deficiencies in the infrastructure supporting electric vehicles, as well as hesitant consumers who are not yet prepared to embrace this technology.

“While electric vehicles hold immense potential for many consumers, we firmly believe that their appeal will grow over time. However, the reality today is that the demand for electric vehicles is not keeping pace with the deluge of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) inundating our dealerships due to current regulations. BEVs are accumulating on our lots,” the letter stated. “Mr. President, it is time to exercise restraint on the unrealistic government electric vehicle mandate. We need time for battery technology to advance, for BEVs to become more affordable, for domestic sources of battery minerals to be developed, for reliable charging infrastructure to be established, and most importantly, for the American consumer to feel comfortable with this technology and make the choice to buy an electric vehicle.”

As Canada sets its sights on an electrified automotive future, the tension between government regulation and consumer readiness continues to be a topic of intense debate. The nation’s ambitious journey towards EV dominance promises to be a defining chapter in its automotive history, with far-reaching implications for both the industry and consumers alike.