Zero Emission Laws Make a Difference

Recently I’ve participated in a series of discussions regarding the viability and results of passing Zero Emission laws. For those that don’t know what these are, about 10 States in the USA have passed such laws regarding what percentage of electric vehicles must be sold in a state by car companies. They either make the quota or pony up substantial dollars when they don’t. Part of why Tesla reduces its losses each year is because other car companies must buy “carbon credits” from them for each car they produce.

In Quebec, at this time, there is a debate about how to proceed with such a law in order to force car makers to bring more inventory to the market. The view is that car makers (other than Tesla) are slow-boating sales in Quebec which clearly they do. For example, neither VW nor Mercedes make their EV’s available in Quebec. They sell them in “compliance states” where they are forced to do so first. Eventually, we may see those cars here, but it will be a long time coming.

Several associations which are organized for the purpose of promoting electric vehicles take differing views. Electro Mobility Canada doesn’t believe in consequences for car makers. Even the EV association of Quebec (AVEQ) used to be against such measures, again through a partnership with a car company which was offering incentives to its members. They have since switched their views. Frankly, I don’t really care what the associations believe. Any EV association which does not fully back laws either by helping to craft or promote them, is beholden to forces which are counter to its original intent. Management of these groups should reconsider their views, lest they become irrelevant to the discussion.

Personally, my view is that incentives for car dealers (who lose service revenues with EVs), salespeople (who must spend far more time educating customers about EVs) and consumers, should all be incented financially. Car makers who are not exclusively making EVs will also take far more time than the market may want. Therefore I would exclude them from any discussion (except for Tesla which supports such laws). The car makers provide a conflict of interest which is obvious to all. They will lobby to slow down most Zero Emissions initiatives unless its something which does not include any consequences for low or no sales of EVs.

Some people point to Norway as an example of how to promote EVs. No consequences to car makers and tons of sales. Well hold on a second…you pay gigantic taxes to buy a gasoline car in Norway and the price of gas is off the charts due to high taxes. If those people were being honest, they’d admit that the population of Quebec is not going to accept to pay double the sales taxes on cars or gas than Ontario. Just not going to happen.

This is why I won’t join any association which does not fully back a Zero Emissions Law. Now we can have differences of opinion of what that law should be doing, yet I have no time for assocations which do not clearly support one version or another.

My personal preference is to combined incentives with consequences. Car makers who put NO EVs into the market, should pay a flat rate per car. The fact that they’ve chosen to stay out of the EV market is their decision and their consequence. I say give them two years following the passing of a law to get up to the sales needed. They will promote cars accordingly, assign marketing budgets to make it happen, and ensure that inventory is easily accessible. If after two years a car company has not reached the agreed numbers, they start to pay. This gives them time to prove that consequences are not necessary, while holding them to a “fire” which ensures that they do all necessary to achieve reasonable levels of sales.

Final word…I am against the politicization of the discussion. I’ve read facebook posts where people blame the federal system and say that an independant Quebec would be cleaner and free to pass such laws. Baloney. Quebec could pass such a law today if it wanted. It just have to have the votes in the National Assembly. I wish people wouldn’t use every excuse under the sky to make it about Canada. This is about a choice of how to ensure clean air and pure water for our children. Let’s make the right choices.

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