Infrastructure deficits will bedevil EV target goals: Toronto dealer

February 3, 2023

One of Toronto’s major auto dealers is convinced the federal government will not reach its immediate targets for selling electric vehicles.

Shahin Alizadeh, President of Downtown AutoGroup, which sells several brands that include EVs and drives one himself, does not believe the government can reach its EV goals of 60 percent sales by 2026, 60 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2035.

“What the government of Canada has mandated, in my opinion, is not a practical mandate. It really isn’t,” said Alizadeh in an interview with Canadian auto dealer. “I’ve been vocal about that. The whole infrastructure is an issue that hasn’t been fully addressed yet.”

Though he said there are plans to put more charging stations in place, he just doesn’t see consumer appetites for EV substantially changing. He said EVs are a refreshing change for someone who has never driven one, but some people whom he’s talked to have range anxieties, particularly when there is an extreme temperature drop.

He said despite the benefits of EVs being good for the environment, he has talked to enough people who are still reluctant to make a purchase and say to him it may take another generation to totally understand how receptive the buying public is to a fully-electrified market.

“There is something to be said about a blend between hybrid and electrified vehicles as probably the only way we can see a middle ground substantially embrace it,” said Alizadeh.

He said in Ontario it’s hard to gauge the nature of mainstream appeal to EVs, noting the majority of manufacturers’ products are going to Quebec and B.C., which offer provincial rebates. The rebates were eliminated in Ontario in September 2019. He said Ontario gets virtually nothing by comparison in terms of allotment compared to B.C. and Quebec. Moreover, manufacturers have to sell a certain number of EVs in Quebec and Ontario compared to internal combustion engine cars to meet provincial government quotas or suffer fines.

“For the most part — almost entirely — (manufacturers) are focused on areas where the incentives are the highest and the levees for them as losing that ratio are the lowest,” said Alizadeh. “So when you read the numbers and the stats across the country, they don’t represent the largest market, which is Ontario. Tesla is a different story because they don’t have to worry about the ratio that in the case of every other brand has become a game of sort of playing their chips.

“In my opinion those have really clouded the whole demand issue in Ontario and our city. You’ve got all these various elements that are playing a role in how the market is behaving for fully-electric vehicles.” Alizadeh does not see how this situation can be resolved. “The numbers just don’t represent what I would consider a real experiment for electrified vehicles. That has nothing to do with the OEMs, it’s the various policies of the government.”

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