Canada to Propose Requiring EVs Be 20 Percent of New Car Sales by 2026

By 2030, that figure will rise to 60 percent, and it will go fully electric by 2035

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Electric vehicle charging
Photo: Justin Sullivan / Staff (Getty Images)

Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault proposed a new mandate today that would require automakers to steadily increase the share of electric vehicles it sells over the next several years. According to CTV News, the draft legislation will be formally released on December 30, but as it stands now, starting in 2026, 20 percent of new vehicle sales will need to be EVs.

By 2030, that figure will increase to 60 percent of vehicle sales, and by 2035, Canada will be electric-only. The proposal also calls for the government to track vehicle sales by instituting a credit system. In such a system, plug-in hybrids would be worth more than gas-only cars, and EVs would be worth more than PHEVs. Automakers that don’t hit those targets would likely face fines or other penalties.

As CTV News points out, only 5.2 percent of Canadian vehicle sales in 2021 were EVs or PHEVs, and data from the first half of 2022 showed that figure had only risen to 7.2 percent. And even as it pushes for increased electrification, the Canadian government also admitted there will likely still be high demand for plug-in hybrids in more rural, remote areas of the country.

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This isn’t Canada’s first attempt to reduce transportation emissions by encouraging the adoption of EVs. But before this new proposed legislation, the government didn’t have a way to enforce further electrification. Currently, passenger vehicles reportedly cause about half of Canada’s road transportation emissions and about a tenth of its total emissions.

Both Quebec and British Columbia already have mandates of their own, and according to the Canadian Climate Institute, that’s caused their EV adoption rates to outpace provinces that don’t have them in place. EVs currently make up about 15 percent of new vehicle sales in British Columbia, with Quebec coming in at 11.4 percent. The next-closest province is Ontario, which is only at 5.5 percent.

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Clearly, Canada has a long way to go to reach its 2026 goal, much less its 2035 goal. But at least with the ability to enforce its mandates, it actually may stand a chance of getting there.