One-fifth of all passenger cars, SUVs and trucks sold in Canada in 2026 will need to run on electricity under new regulations Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault proposed Wednesday.
By 2030, the mandate will hit 60 per cent of all sales and by 2035, every passenger vehicle sold in Canada will need to be electric.
Guilbeault’s parliamentary secretary Julie Dabrusin said during Wednesday’s announcement that the new target is “about making sure that Canadians have access to the vehicles they want.”
Manufacturers or importers who don’t meet the sales targets could face penalties under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act through a phased-in approach.
Canada still has a long way to go before approaching the first target in 2026.
In the first six months of this year, sales of fully-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles made up just 7.2 per cent of new car registrations. For all of 2021, the proportion was 5.2 per cent.
Cara Clairman, president and CEO of Plug’n Drive, a non-profit organization that encourages electric vehicle use, said the toughest part of promoting the change from gas-powered vehicles is availability.
“Long waiting lists are definitely discouraging consumers that are ready to make the switch,” she said. “And if we all agree that we’re in a climate emergency, we need to help consumers make the switch as soon as possible.”
Brian Kingston, president and CEO of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, said the federal government should be building out necessary infrastructure for electric vehicles before regulating sales.
He suggested that Canada’s infrastructure is not on track to support a growing fleet — and those who will be driving the new cars. “The vehicles are coming, but we need a supercharged effort to help marketing, and actually make that purchase and make it easy, convenient and accessible,” he said.
Under the draft regulations, to be formally published Dec. 30, the government proposes tracking the sales by issuing credits for vehicle sales.
Fully electric cars and trucks would be worth a bigger credit than plug-in hybrid versions, though the government acknowledges that plug-in hybrids will likely remain in demand in rural and northern areas.