GUNTER: The truth about electric vehicle numbers in Canada

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Thursday, Statistics Canada released new vehicle sales figures for the first three months of 2022. Some of the numbers might surprise you.

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“New gasoline-powered vehicles posted the largest decline, with 13.2 per cent fewer new registrations in 2022” than during the same three months in 2021, “followed by diesel-powered vehicles, down 11.8 per cent.”

Conversely, registrations of new fully electric vehicles were up 55 per cent.

But before you let your inner environmentalist run wild celebrating this “boom” in electric vehicles, remember if you’re selling very few electric vehicles and you suddenly start selling only a few more, the statistical increase looks pretty impressive, yet the overall numbers are still tiny.

Electric vehicles make up barely two per cent of total vehicle sales in Canada. And outside Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, almost no one is buying EVs.

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Dig a little deeper in the StatsCan numbers and you find that in 2021 there were 1.7 million new gasoline or diesel vehicles sold in Canada and just 37,000 electric or hybrid-electric.

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Two things jump out at me from those statistics.

First, the federal govt insists their goal of 100 per cent of new cars being electric by 2035 is realistic because five per cent of new vehicles in Canada are already electrics or hybrids. That can’t be true, though, with a sales figure like that.

Also, it means in just the next 13 years, the other 98 per cent of vehicle sales have to become electric sales.

I suppose that’s theoretically possible. If you assume the same 55 per cent rate of growth in EVs sales every year, you get to 1.7 million electrics by about 2032. With federal subsidies of $5,000 per EV, that’s $8.5 billion a year

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But what market grows by 55 per cent a year in perpetuity, even if it’s heavily subsidized?

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This is just more magic-wand thinking by “green” politicians and environmental activists who want so badly for our fleet to become fully electric they are prepared to let their brains be clouded by fantasy thinking.

I have nothing against EVs, per se. I can see myself owning one as soon as they can be made as cheap as gas vehicles, run as far on a charge as my current SUV runs on a tank of gas, take only as much time to recharge as it currently takes me to refuel and work as well in our winters as my ICE (internal combustion engine).

It’s a matter of practicality. And right now EVs are not practical enough for me.

They are a second or even third car for rich urbanites. A status symbol and a signal of how virtuous the owner is in caring about the planet.

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That is why nearly two-thirds of EVs sold in Canada are being bought in just three cities, Vancouver, T.O. and Montreal. The rest of the country is largely ignoring them.

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If you live more than 300 kms from relatives, you’re not likely to make it to visit to see them on a single “tank” of electricity. You’ll have to recharge on the way there and the way back.

In the winter, you’d be foolish to think about trying without a one-hour recharging break because the heat in your vehicle is also powered by your batteries.

So for Canadians who live outside cities (or even those who just travel a lot between cities), an EV is impractical.

Besides, just where is all the electricity going to come from to power all the charging stations?

During the current summer heatwave, EV owners in California and Texas have already been warned there is not enough juice in the grid at peak hours to power their cars.

So where are all the new power plants being built in Canada to power the Trudeau government’s EV dreams?

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