Neil Vorano

Neil Vorano

December 15, 2021 12:24 pm


Every Friday, The Charge looks back at the biggest headlines of the week with our own added insight and opinions for a broader picture of the news.

A tale of two governments

Ontario premier Doug Ford

When it comes to planning for a future of electric vehicles, some governments have a lot of talk, and some actually do something about it. Take California, for example; earlier this week, the state announced that it approved a plan for a US$1.4 billion investment in infrastructure for ZEV, including EV charging stations and even hydrogen filling stations, as well as EV manufacturing. All this over just three years, in a major step towards the state’s goal of phasing out sales of gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

And the state’s California Air Resources Board (CARB) will soon be considering another proposal for US$1.5 billion for EV incentives and clean-energy equipment investments. The Golden State has always been a leader in environmental issues and cleaning up emissions, and these new moves prove that it’s serious about going toward an electric future.

And then, there’s Doug Ford. The Ontario premier has been adamant lately about the province’s goals towards building EVs. This week, at a tour of an auto parts company in Guelph, ON, with the Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli, Ford even went so far as to say they will be building 400,000 EVs in Ontario by 2030. To do this, the province will place an emphasis on supply chains, mining, encouraging innovation in development of EVs and investing in auto workers.

That all sounds great, but Ford failed to mention anything about a cash investment or any details as to how this ‘plan’ will get started, or when.Of course, Ontario can’t spend the billions of dollars that California – with a population near that of Canada – can dish out, but we’d still like to see the details of how Ontario’s vision will work. The time for action is now.

Hmmm, let’s see: a promise of jobs for auto workers, a refusal to offer EV incentives for “millionaires” and another recent promise to drop taxes at the gas pumps point to one thing: there’s an election coming up soon.

A big problem down south

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden

Whether Doug Ford can kickstart an EV production plan or not, Canada has some serious diplomatic work to do with our neighbours to the south to ensure it can happen at all. US President Joe Biden’s US$2 trillion spending plan has been passed to the Senate for approval, and it includes EV incentives up to US$12,500 – only if the vehicles are built in the US by union shops. That would be a serious hit for Canadian auto manufacturing; no automaker will build an EV here that won’t be able to sell without incentives in the US.

But Detroit’s Big Three carmakers – Ford, General Motors and Stellantis – have already promised building EVs in Ontario. Ford, for example, recently received $590 million from the federal and Ontario governments for its Oakville plant makeover. And that might help Canada’s cause; will these companies step up to lobby the US government on behalf of our own? They’ve invested heavily here, let’s hope they put their money where there mouths are, and vice versa.

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