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And iffn we don't buy 'em?

15 Feb 2023 | News Roundup

Like many governments, the Canadian one is going to force people to buy electric vehicles, or at least ban them from buying the alternatives, whether they want them or not, and whether they can charge them or not. And it raises the big unanswered question of what they intend to do if companies offer EVs for sale but customers won’t buy them. By 2035 when the ban on internal combustion engines is supposed to kick in, the answer is presumably a straightforward “No car for you.” But meanwhile what does the government do, or the car companies, if we do not buy the 20% of EVs mandated for Model Year 2026, 23% for 2027, 34% for 2028 and so forth? Is it first come first served for gasoline or diesel and the losers get electric, or no car at all? Will people queue up around the block at dealerships on Dec. 31 for the good seats? Will there be ration books with coupons? Is it a lottery? Or can companies just offer them for purchase then sell us all good old ICE vehicles?

We were not surprised to discover that most Canadians have no idea any of this stuff is heading their way. Including that, the National Post reports, according to a new poll “a whopping 84 per cent of Canadians do not know what the ‘just transition’ plan actually is.” Which might be explained by its architects not knowing either. And there’s more bad news for those politicians and bureaucrats:

“more than half of respondents doubt that Ottawa can achieve its stated goal of replacing jobs lost in the oil and gas sector due to a transition to a low-carbon economy. Furthermore, 60 per cent of all Canadians think we shouldn’t make major changes before larger global polluters make serious efforts to reduce carbon emissions, according to a new Postmedia-Leger poll.”

It doesn’t help that federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Reagan erupted under questioning from Canadian Senators that:

“I’ve said this for years. ‘Just transition’ is a word that workers hate and my constituents don’t like and so I don’t like it either. We tried anyway within the bureaucracy and amongst ourselves to say the words ‘sustainable jobs.’”

As if the problems with the whole mess can be fixed merely by giving it another name. (And to nitpick, “Just transition” is not a word, it’s a phrase). When it comes to the just sustainable jobs transition thingy, what it does won’t be what its creators think, and it won’t impress Canadians when they discover it. And on this file, as on many others, those Canadians not aware of what’s coming would be well-advised to take note of Leon Trotskii’s ominous maxim that “You may not be interested in strategy, but strategy is interested in you.”

In C2C Journal James Coggin, who we note approvingly is “a writer, editor and historian” in British Columbia, gives quite the detailed drubbing to the government’s claim that Canadians will end up $9.5 billion dollars richer by 2050 by being forced to switch. He takes the math apart and it just won’t go back together, starting with their underestimating the cost of EVs and going on to their utterly, absurdly underestimating the cost of a charging network including in people’s homes, which probably stretches into the hundreds of billions and then spectacularly duffing the bit about new generating capacity and transmission lines.

Coggin also notes the well-established, if well-ignored, fact that EVs do not respond well to heavy loads, from pulling a trailer to transporting construction material. There are serious non-monetary costs that are left out even of the very fishy math put forward by the government. (We also note that the supposedly detailed plan, which goes by the odd name of a “REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT”, only refers to “the fleet offered for sale in Canada” not the one actually sold, implying the EVs might just sit there like modern versions of the old New York “Raines Sandwich” but we assume when implemented the rules will in fact refer to vehicles actually sold, possibly after a short stunned delay.)

Which brings us back to the question of what car companies are to do if Canadians don’t want unreliable, unchargeable vehicles. Which as Coggan details they currently don’t: “Even the 2026 goal seems a big stretch given that only about 6 percent of cars currently on the road in Canada are fully electric and that EVs made up only about 5 percent of car sales in 2021.”

Politicians being slippery characters, he indignantly adds that:

“At a media event announcing the new federal regulations in December 2022, Liberal MP Julie Dabrusin, parliamentary secretary to Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, claimed that the regulations forcing Canadians to buy EVs are ‘about making sure that Canadians have access to the vehicles they want.’ It is a strange claim to make.”

Yeah, strange is one word. Demented and Orwellian would be others you could use because, again quoting Coggan:

“According to her government’s own Impact Statement, it’s the exact opposite. Rather than increasing choice, ‘The proposed Amendments are expected to lead to a loss of consumer choice,’ the document reads. (Emphasis added.)”

But of course to a certain class of zealot, true choice is about what you should want not what you do want, and they have ways to make you shop.

Politicians being slippery characters, the Trudeau administration’s definition of “zero-emission” also includes non-zero-emission “plug-in hybrid electric vehicles” (or PHEV) which um burn gasoline if you need actual power at some point. However these will supposedly be limited to 20% of all vehicles as of 2028. Which again raises the question “And iffn we don’t?” about buying them at all, and also as to whether if some mechanism is created to force some chump to do so, they’ll be left dusty on the lot for the slow and clumsy to buy after the nimble and alert have rushed to the dealer to scoop up the PHEVs with a phew.

The impact statement, apparently not written by people who spend much time thinking about the Law of Unintended Consequences, including people delaying buying new cars once the government makes doing so an expensive and frustrating hassle, also says “ZEV sales targets are specified by model year, and the analysis assumes that each model year results occur in the same calendar year.” Which they don’t even do now. But while currently you get next year’s model this year, one can certainly imagine a manufacturer continuing to crank out 2025 cars into 2035 if there’s consumer satisfaction and profit to be had thereby.

The whole Impact Analysis is a classic case of telling the computer model what to tell you and it does. EVs are cheap and everyone will want them. Canadians will receive $19.2 billion in health benefits from the switch. (Note the lovely decimal place to make guesswork look like laser precision.) Canadians will want this percentage of EVs in this year and that percentage in that year. But it is also a classic case of wishful lack of thinking that leaves out the crucial question that arises because people have moral agency.

Namely “and iffn we don’t?” Have they really not thought of it? They don’t seem to have.

21 comments on “And iffn we don't buy 'em?”

  1. Car sales in the UK in December show a massive spike in EV numbers. Because the motor companies realise they have sales targets to reach. Thus the register the cars, no doubt to put them on the used car lots.

    That’s not a sustainable model if the public doesn’t actually buy cars according to government mandated sales targets.

  2. What will car companies do the vast fields of unsold EV's when car buyers stubbornly refuse to cooperate and buy these overpriced lemons?

  3. How about mandating that those people with a surname beginning with A, B or C can only buy electric cars and each year more letters of the alphabet could be added? I appreciate that Mr Abbott could then self identify as Mr Zebedee, but at least the system would be just as sensible as the current one suggested. Alternately, there could be a weekly draw at each car dealer to see who had won an ICE car for £20,000 and who had to pay for an electric model of the same car costing £40,000.

  4. I sent a copy of Coggin's C2C article to my MP (he's CPC). I rarely hear back from his office, and I don't know what the CPC position is on EVs, PHEVs, ZEVs or other forms of Trudeaumobile that pop into the "mind" of the governor in council. Seems to me they're playing it close to the vest, not sure which way the electorate will jump. Is it too much to ask for opposition from the Opposition, for leadership from the government in waiting? How far down this garden path will we let these ilLiberals lead us before sufficient numbers of us wake up?

  5. The problem is similar to the one posed when the government began setting minimum standards for fuel efficiency standards. If the sales of EVs are too low to ensure that manufacturers comply with the regulations, they will be fined, so they will charge more for the internal combustion engine cars and cross-subsidize (i.e. charge less than cost for the EVs). If even that does not work, they will have to pay the fines and devote lower investment to the industry. Consumers can always try the "Cuban" solution, which is to hang on to their ICE cars as long as possible and constantly repair them. Of course, with carbon taxes rising to $170 per tonne by 2030 and higher after that, keeping a reliable ICE car may get expensive. Still, consumers will find a way.

  6. Of course all of this assumes that the current Liberal government will still be there after (at the latest) 2025. Which is looking less and less likely as time goes by.

  7. My son has been in a wait list for a year for an EV car he wants to purchase. There is no supply of EVs. The market is not ready Even plug in EV are in wait list. The government think they can switch to EVs in ten years, when there is not enough supply of production of EV. Not enough production of batteries.

  8. Well, since there aren’t enough mines or processing plants to produce the materials necessary, the 2035 ban really means a ban on cars. But that won’t be a problem, all Canadians live within walking distance of everything they need, right? Maybe everyone in Canada should consider buying a real car and storing it before the ban takes effect. And take lessons from Cubans on how to keep cars running for 70 years after new ones are prohibited.

  9. The Cuban experience has a great deal to teach us, and the lesson goes far beyond how to keep cars on the road for 70 years. It goes to the question of what happens when, seduced by the allure of benevolent socialism, you find yourself living under a dictatorial regime which presumes to know better than the people what the people ought to want, one which is prepared to force what the people don't want down their throats. The people in positions of power imagine themselves to be gods, but their conception of how the world works is cartoon-like. It puts me in mind of the old saying that those who the gods would destroy, they first make crazy. Trudeau, Guibeault, Freeland and the rest fit the bill.... but it is we who elected them thrice over who will, in the end, foot the bill.

  10. There’s an excellent YouTube video series entitled “Great Moments in Unintended Consequences”. I’ve posted a comment on volume 10 suggesting they include Raine’s Law in an upcoming edition. As for the “Just Transition”, I’m pretty sure it will become fodder for an entire future edition of Great Moments. Maybe even an entire series all in its own!

  11. In Canada EV’s are unpractical. I believe the hydrogen car is better suited for the Canadians long distance driving. The fact that the federal government doesn’t understand this doesn’t surprise me because they are usually a day late and a dollar short.

  12. Until there is action on tripling or quadrupling the grid capacity with high density energy (hydro and nuclear) all plans for decarbonizing the deranged dominion are a Trojan Horse for a totalitarian technocratic return to Marxist-inspired serfdom. You may be allowed to drive an E-scooter in town depending on your social credit score as calculated and enforced by your CBDC and party affiliation.
    “Everything government says is a lie and everything it has it has stolen”. – Friedrich Nietzsche

  13. Nice, lively discussion!
    Epema: The official CPC position is to "make Canada the freest country in the world." Hard to see how EVs would be compatible with that.
    Villaroel: If you think there is a shortage of car batteries now, just wait until the entire transportation sector is dependent on them. Not to mention every city and town requiring its own back-up battery for when the sun is dim and the wind is blowing too hard. Scarcity drives up price. Your son might take a clue from the existing shortage of supply and rethink the whole idea.
    Heywood: You can try hydrogen if you like, but I don't read anything good about it. Turns fuel tanks brittle. Highly explosive. Not cheap to make hydrogen.... If the free market doesn't support it, probably a bad idea.
    Chittick: Nietzsche didn't know Canada, where a third of the population are left of the Trudeau Liberals, who are the most leftist government in Canadian history. At least two-thirds of the tax money the government collects is not stolen, it is given voluntarily, even eagerly. Canadian taxpayers have a big collective "Kick Me" sign on their butt.

  14. One commonality that I have found with all of these well off, ie rich, people and politicians trying to force EVs on the rest of us, is that a lot of them have boats. Boats get the worst MPG of all ICE powered vehicles, especially if you've graduated to the MPH category. So, what do they think is going to happen when they have to convert their expensive yachts to all electric powered motors? If there are no gas refineries/stations for land vehicles, there's going to be no fuel for the recreational marine industry. Although, it would be kinda funny, albeit dangerous, when someone runs out of juice in their yacht (Jeff Bezos) and needs to have a mobile recharge station come to them... Maybe they could do the Fisheries Department a solid and count the stunned fish that float to the surface..?

  15. Canada? That's easy. They'll send the military to force compliance, and empty objector's bank accounts. Exactly as they did when the Truck Driver's rallied together to speak against their government's unrighteous behavior. Canada is now a fascist country. And the USA is only one (jackboot) step behind them.

  16. They can tax CO2 emissions without recourse to reality. Reality says CO2 is worth about €5 per ton on the European carbon market.
    The weather cannot be improved with taxes.

  17. Referring to the "classic case of telling the computer model what to tell you and it does" says the computer model is just an automated consultant. How many millions did they say the Trudeau government has spent on consultants? Why not replace most of them with a few computer models?

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