Mandatory Target for All New Light-Duty Cars and Passenger Truck Sales to be Zero-Emissions by 2035 in Canada

As of 2020, Stats Canada reports the number of passenger motor vehicles registered in Canada (vehicles under 4,500 kg) was 23,472,111. Light vehicles in Canada, including passenger cars, light trucks, SUVs, and vans (weighing less than 4,500 kg), account for the largest growth in registrations.  1,358,657 vehicles were produced in Canada in 2020. Additionally, the country imported $21.7 billion or 71,702 cars in 2020. Imported cars were primarily from:  The United States ($10.6B), South Korea ($2.75B), Japan ($2.74B), Mexico ($2.59B), and Germany ($1.53B). The average life expectancy of a vehicle in Canada is about 12.88 years.

Gasoline remains the most common fuel used for automobiles followed by diesel. Petroleum-based fuel is refined for four to six-cylinder engines and is found in many of today’s common cars. Flex fuel vehicles (ie, cars that can run on ethanol-gasoline blends, up to 85% ethanol) are the third-most-popular fuel type across Canada’s used vehicle market; however, fueling stations are sparse.

Litres of priority fuels sold in Canada 2020
Net sales of gasoline 36,894,411
Gross sales of gasoline 38,597,569
Net sales of diesel oil 16,222,705
Net sales of liquefied petroleum gas 503,848

Canada’s population was estimated at 38,654,738 on April 1, 2022.  An Angus Reid Global 2019 survey showed Canadians only drive their vehicle 4% of the time and that 84% of Canadians owned a car, while another 9% wanted one—and 37% owned two or more vehicles. Actual car ownership is lowest among those ages 18 to 34, but that group is also the one most interested in owning one in the future. One in five owners drive two hours or less each week, and 63% don’t drive their cars every day. Among those who had a second car, 41% said it was seldom or never got used.

The Government of Canada set a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger truck sales to be zero-emissions by 2035. That includes battery-only, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

New registrations of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) hit an important milestone in 2021, with ZEVs comprising 5.2% of all new motor vehicles registered, up from 3% in both 2020 and 2019. Statistics Canada showed 65,253 new battery-only and plug-in hybrid electric cars were registered in the first nine months of 2021, more than the number registered across 12 months in any previous year.  Canada’s auto industry still lags behind other auto-manufacturing countries in its preparation for an electrified transportation future. Stronger policies in other countries are driving electrification and attracting electric vehicle investments. Ontario is looking to maintain and grow its auto sector by building at least 400,000 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2030.

So where is Canada in terms of vehicle greenhouse gas emission (GGEs) levels?  Between 1990 (603 Mt) and 2019 (730 Mt), GGEs overall increased by 21.4% or 129 Mt CO2 eq. Emissions from the transportation sector (including passenger, freight, and off-road emissions) were the largest contributor, representing 22% of overall GGEs in 2005. In 2018, the road transportation sector emitted 156 MT of CO2e or 21% of total Canadian emissions. Between 1990 and 2020, a higher number of vehicles were on the road. For example, emissions from freight travel grew by 130% between 1990 and 2020.

Since 2015 and the signing of the Paris Agreement, Canada has adopted 2005 as the base year for its emissions reduction target. In 2020, the transport sector accounted for 24% of total emissions with 159 Mt CO2 eq emitted in 2021. Canada committed to reducing its emissions by 40‑45% below 2005 levels by 2030 in 2021. The latest year reported (2020) coincides with the 1st year of the COVID-19 pandemic’s influence on economic sectors. Trends presented are being interpreted thus with caution.

In the Canadian statistical system, data quality is defined by six quality dimensions: relevance, accuracy, timeliness, accessibility, interpretability, and coherence. Many organizations globally have given Statistics Canada the ranking of one of the top statistical agencies in the world. This agency of the Government of Canada is commissioned with producing statistics to help better understand Canada, its population, resources, economy, society, and culture. It is headquartered in Ottawa. Canada uses recognized energy and macroeconomic modeling framework for its yearly projections.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Canada Country Manager Diane Szoller


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