The federal government unveiled its plans to reduce emissions across Canada. By 2035, new vehicles solely powered by gas will no longer be available on the market.
This has raised questions in Alberta on how practical this mandate is and if the province can handle the changes.
On Tuesday, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced plans to phase out new vehicles solely powered by gas. A move experts say isn’t that far-fetched.
“I think it is realistic, nationwide I certainly think it’s realistic. It could actually be conservative. Technologies can be adopted at a much quicker pace than you initially suspect,” said William York, president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta (EVAA).
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The federal government wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by only allowing the sale of zero emission vehicles like electric vehicles after 2035.
It also sets out ways of creating more EV support facilities like charging stations. However, the auto industry says a lot of work remains.
“According to the government, we need 442,000 public chargers. There are 25,000 right now. So to get to that number, we would need to see 35,000 public chargers built every single year from now until 2035,” said Brian Kingston, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturer’s Association.
“We have to provide charging infrastructure to Canadians that live in multi-unit residential buildings. This is almost one third of Canadians,” he said. “According to the government, we need 2.2 million chargers in these multi-unit residential buildings to power the growing electric vehicle fleet.”
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Currently, there are nearly 10,000 purely electric vehicles registered in Alberta. However, the EVAA says outside of urban centres charging resources are slim.
“Rural fast-charging infrastructure is still a challenge in Alberta. There aren’t many fast chargers north of Edmonton, so if you’re driving to Grand Prairie or Fort McMurray you may have issues. I’ve been an EV owner for about five years. When I first procured my vehicle, there were infrastructure challenges going east and west of Edmonton and now those are no longer there,” said York.
York added that there are often psychological barriers surrounding EVs. He also said that people often think that the need for charging infrastructure is larger than it is.
“There’s a capital costs barrier where people are not wanting to pay the higher upfront costs. Also, not understanding that there are maintenance cost savings and fuel cost savings as you own an electric vehicle and continue to drive it,” York said.
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Drivers in Edmonton have their hesitation with the mandate, claiming the timeline is unrealistic.
“I feel that what the government should’ve done, they should’ve extended the deadline. Instead of at 2035, it should’ve been 2050. This way it will give Alberta more of an opportunity to transition,” said Muhammed Bhinder
“(There) needs to be a whole lot more infrastructure to be able to sustain that kind of electricity. I just think it’s unrealistic,” said Scott Nemec. “Everyone’s got their own choice. If you want to drive electric vehicles and pay high electricity prices then by all means, but I’ll stick to what I’m doing.”
Often one of the biggest points made about EVs in Alberta is that they can’t survive the winters, but York says that argument doesn’t always stand.
“It’s a great winter vehicle. It blasts heat out, because it has an electric heater inside of it. You don’t have to wait for the engine block to warm up and for the radiator to warm up, it just blasts warm air out right away. It’s actually a better winter vehicle than my previous vehicle by a large margin,” York said.
York also said that more funding is required from the government for fast charger owners and operators in order to boost charging infrastructure.
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