Canada’s first Electric Vehicle Show began Friday at Place Bonaventure, featuring 60 exhibitors of electric cars, motorcycles, bicycles, boats and more.
“We are really the first in North America that I know,” said show promoter Louis Bernard.
Automakers like Toyota, Chevrolet, and Porsche are on hand all weekend, displaying their latest electric, hybrid, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.
All three levels of government were present Friday, and took the opportunity to discuss the country’s transition to electric vehicles (EVs).
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced the Canadian government plans to work on a “Zero-Emissions Vehicle Strategy,” to be presented in 2018.
“The Zero-Emissions Vehicle Strategy is important for this country because at the moment, only one in 200 cars is zero-emission. We need to do better, much better than that,” Garneau told Global News.
Transportation accounts for 24 per cent of the country’s emissions, mostly from cars and trucks. This strategy aims to significantly reduce Canada’s emission footprint, and the government will seek input from automakers and other stakeholders in the transportation sector.
A vehicle must run on battery-electric, plug-in hybrid technologies, or hydrogen fuel cells to be considered zero emission (ZEV).
The government’s strategy will build on existing initiatives and regulations to encourage the electric market without tough legislation on automakers.
Garneau said the federal government would not force automakers to keep a certain amount of electric vehicles in stock, like the Quebec government has done.
“We just decided that instead of giving ourselves a specific number, that what we would do is try to make the conditions more favourable for people to buy zero-emission vehicles,” Garneau said.
The 2017 federal budget allocated $120 million for Natural Resources Canada to deploy infrastructure for EV charging stations and alternative fuel stations. Garneau’s hope is that easier accessibility will increase demand.
Quebec Natural Resources Minister Pierre Arcand said it’s too soon to see if the provincial legislation is creating results, but that “it would help” if the federal government followed suit.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre pointed to a goal to have 400 charging stations in Montreal by the end of the year, but some automakers still see the lack of charging stations as an obstacle.
“It’s definitely a challenge, but things are moving slowly but surely,” said Olivier Depenweiller of Toyota Canada.
Under one per cent of Quebec car sales are electric. CAA Quebec’s spokesperson Annie Gauthier doesn’t think that’s because of lack of interest.
“I think people are interested in electric cars. I think the problem is not related to the electric car — it’s the needs of car users and infrastructure. Do we have enough places to recharge their car?” Gauthier posed.
Organizers hope that interest is bound to increase over time, as events like the Montreal Electric Vehicle Show become more frequent.
The show runs until May 28 at Place Bonaventure.