Canada will require all passenger cars, four wheel drives, crossovers and light trucks sold in the country by 2035 to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), part of the federal government’s overall plan to combat climate change.

ZEVs must make up at least 20 per cent of all cars sold by 2026 and at least 60 per cent by 2030, according to the regulations released on Tuesday.

Electric vehicles (EVs) currently make up about 12.1 per cent of Canada’s new vehicle sales.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said the regulations would provide the country’s automobile industry with the certainty it needed to address the issue of limited EV availability.

“[This decision] ensures Canadians have access to our fair share of the global supply of these vehicles,” he said.

Transportation accounts for about 22 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The rules are similar to those adopted by the US state of California, which says 100 per cent of new cars sold in 2035 must be plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), EVs or vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

A total of 17 US states have also agreed to adopt those regulations.

Global EV sales now make up about 13 per cent of all vehicle sales and are likely to rise to between 40 and 45 per cent of the market by the end of the decade, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

According to the data platform Statista, Tesla accounted for 36.7 per cent of EV sales in Canada in 2022, with Hyundai in second place with 11.1 per cent.

The Canadian automobile industry says the regulations are too ambitious, noting the higher cost of electric vehicles.

It also complains that the country’s charging network is incomplete, especially in rural areas. Canada, the world’s second-largest country by land area, has a population of just 40 million people.

“Achieving higher ZEV sales levels depends on favourable market conditions, stronger consumer purchase incentives … widespread charging infrastructure [and] expanded grid capacity,” said Brian Kingston, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association.

The government’s charging effort is focused on building EV ports in populous public areas and multi-family residential buildings, which experts warn may not be enough to rapidly increase adoption.

In an effort to address complaints that EVs are impractical in remote and northern areas, where cold conditions can cut the efficiency of batteries, PHEVs with an all-electric range of 80 kilometres or more will remain eligible for sale in 2035 and beyond.

Canada has missed every emissions-reduction target it has ever set.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says fighting climate change is one of his Liberal government’s top priorities.

The country’s environment commissioner last month said the government’s emissions-reduction plan was flawed and would not reach the target of cutting greenhouse gas output by 40 to 45 per cent below the 2005 level by 2030.

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