Get ready to say goodbye to gas-powered cars, Canada! The federal government plans to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars as part of its wider goal to cut pollution and fight climate change, with changes set to begin as early as 2026.
Back in June 2021, the government laid out a new mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sold in the country to be zero-emission by 2035.
Initially, officials had set a goal of 2040, but this was brought forward by five years in an effort to "take another important step on the road to net zero."
It means the way Canadians buy new cars will change, as the proposed regulations will impact vehicles from passenger cars and SUVs to pickup trucks.
And changes are coming fast. Under the existing plan, at least 20% of new vehicles sold in Canada will be zero emission by as early as 2026.
With that in mind, here's everything you need to know.
So, what do we know about the plan so far?
\u201cThat\u2019s right - by 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks that are sold must be zero-emission. That\u2019s how we\u2019ll build a cleaner, stronger economy that both creates good jobs and cuts down pollution. For more on this announcement, click here: https://t.co/dtmaB9xOQi\u201d— Justin Trudeau (@Justin Trudeau) 1625005085
Well, we know that the federal government wants to take on climate change through "bold" policies, including this one.
The move is part of a wider plan to get Canada's economy to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Speaking in 2021, Canada's then-Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said cutting transportation emissions "is one of the most readily achievable and economically beneficial paths Canada can take on the road to net-zero emissions by 2050."
When will gas-powered cars be banned in Canada?
In December 2022, the Canadian government confirmed its plans to start regulating gas-powered vehicle sales, including passenger vehicles, pick-up trucks and SUVs, with changes coming into effect over the next decade or so.
Here's a look at the current plans:
- By 2026 — 20% of new vehicle sales in Canada must be ZEVs
- By 2030 — 60% of new vehicle sales in Canada must be ZEVs
- By 2035 — 100% of new vehicle sales in Canada must be ZEVs
A ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) is a vehicle that does not produce tailpipe emissions and is powered by sources like electricity or hydrogen rather than gasoline or diesel.
In addition to the environmental and health perks, there are a whole bunch of additional benefits of owning ZEVs, including lower fuel and maintenance costs.
"It can cost five-to-ten times less to charge a battery-electric vehicle compared to fuelling up an equivalent-sized gas vehicle to travel the same distance," according to the Government of Canada.
What's more, studies have found that battery-electric vehicle owners will spend around 50% less on maintenance than those with the same driving habits and an equivalent-sized conventional gas vehicle.
What will happen to gas-powered cars?
\u201cIn case you missed it, this week we announced an ambitious Emissions Reduction Plan to address climate change while continuing to make Canada a world leader in green transportation.\ud83d\udc47\u201d— Omar Alghabra (@Omar Alghabra) 1649002939
Although the ban is coming into effect five years earlier than originally planned, nothing is going to change drastically overnight.
Before mandating that all new light-duty vehicles sold must be zero emission by 2035, the feds have interim targets of 20% of vehicles sold to be zero emission by 2026 and 60% by 2030.
Officials say that as light-duty vehicles usually remain in service for about 15 years, requiring 100% of vehicles to be zero emission by 2035 will help to move Canada toward its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
While it's unlikely that the feds will stop Canadians from buying pre-owned gasoline-powered vehicles in private sales by 2035, the new rule will prevent Canadians from purchasing a brand-new gas-powered car from a dealership or showroom.
The hope is that it will become increasingly difficult to purchase and sell cars that are not zero emission, therefore encouraging Canadians to consider greener alternatives, like electric cars, instead.
In a notice shared in December 2022, Environment and Climate Change Canada acknowledged that to achieve its climate goals, emissions will need to be reduced from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles too. This includes utility vans, delivery trucks, buses, dump trucks and long-haul tractor-trailers, among other commercial vehicles.
It says discussions are ongoing about getting Canada to a target of 100% zero‑emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales, where feasible, by 2040.
What about the practicalities?
To help make the goal achievable, the Government of Canada has laid out a series of investments and regulations that'll come into effect over the coming years.
This includes incentives to help Canadian drivers with the upfront cost of getting a greener vehicle, as well as investments into zero-emission vehicle charging infrastructure and helping auto manufacturers "re-tool" to produce greener cars here in Canada.
For those worried about the individual cost of the switch, the feds predict that by 2030, "zero-emission vehicles will reach price-parity with their gas-powered counterparts."
"As the sale and production of zero emission personal vehicles increases, upfront prices will fall," the government says.
And if you're worried about how you'd charge an electric vehicle — don't be. There are also plans to fund as many as 50,000 charging stations across the country (at a cost of around $500 million) so that zero-emission vehicle drivers will be able to charge their cars with ease.
The government also says most zero-emission vehicles can travel 300 km to 600 km on a fully charged battery, and as most Canadians drive a lot less than 300 km per week, a ZEV will generally have enough range to get you where you need to go between charges, so you won't need to find a public charger all too often.
So, if you're planning to purchase a new car in the near future, it could be wise to consider a green alternative.
This article has been updated since it was originallypublished in June 2022.