Tuesday, October 27, 2020
News Opinion: Electrification is not the only way: Laws to push an agenda...

Opinion: Electrification is not the only way: Laws to push an agenda are completely wrong

I’ve very much become in tune with electrified cars in the last year and the more I read up on it, the more frustrated I get.

The electrification of cars is a good thing. Reducing our impact on the environment is also a good thing. Depending on government incentives to promote and encourage consumers to purchase vehicles with an electric range is not good. Penalizing car makers that do not have an electrified car for sale is even worse.

This is especially true when said manufacturer is imposed fines because they’ve yet to mass produce and sell an electrified car. Specifically, and in this case, the “culprit” is Mazda. Get this: Little old Mazda has the most fuel-efficient line-up of cars in North America, not Toyota, and the little Japanese carmaker has achieved this without electrification. Despite this, they’re looking at paying fines in Quebec and California because they do not sell an electrified car. What does that tell you?

About Toyota. We all know about the Prius and they’re long history with hybrids. Giant Toyota’s got nothing to worry about but unlike some OEMs, they understand there’s something wrong with the way some governments are operating. Last month, Larry Hutchinson, President and CEO at Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI), was addressing industry people and said many brilliant things as to why a narrow electrified approach won’t be effective:

“Today’s battery electric vehicles are primarily small cars – and they are replacing conventional small cars that are already relatively efficient. Meanwhile, sales of the biggest emitters – commercial vehicles, pickup trucks and SUVs – continue to rise. For this reason, overall greenhouse gas emissions are staying high. Toyota believes there’s a need and a place for multiple powertrain technologies. Each technology has a unique role to play in meeting consumer needs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the focus can’t be on one at the expense of others.”

I completely and wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Hutchinson. The problem is that the focus is all wrong. The idea behind incentive and the law is to get more EVs on the road, not reduce the impact the car has on the environment. The government think this will be the case, but the reality is that it will change little or nothing.

I was at the launch event of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a few months ago. Mitsubishi seems to be one of those OEMs vying to please governments by offering an electrified car in order to avoid paying penalties. The people at Mitsubishi, and I’ve heard it from other OEMs, pointed out that Mazda is going to be in trouble in 2018. Talk about childlike shenanigans, and more importantly, missing the point of electrification altogether.

And about the Outlander PHEV? I’ll save you time and money: It is not worth the investment. Even if you want one now, it could be a while before they’re able to deliver and initial interests remain high. Anyhow, in my opinion, buy a Toyota RAV4 hybrid instead. Or, a Mazda CX-5. All said, both provide better fuel economy numbers on the whole.

The bottom line is that this whole getup is not working. When one considers that electrified vehicles count for a fraction of a percentage in sales, the sale of said vehicles once more has no real positive impact on the environment. As consumers continue to purchase internal combustion engine cars and are likely to do it for many years to come, the incentive should be on buying fuel-efficient right-sized vehicles. Replacing a 4-year old Lancer for a brand new Prius Prime changes little. Or, worse yet, trading in a 4-year old Corolla to jump on a brand new Outlander Plug-in hybrid to lug around a family of three!

The laws are wrong, do not serve the greater good and will do more damage than good. Honestly, if Mazda’s fined tens of thousands of dollars in Quebec for example, who do you think will really end up paying the tab? You and me bub. That’s who.

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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