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Canada's new electric-vehicle registrations soar in 2021 but still lag behind Europe – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Published Monday, March 14, 2022 4:27PM EDT

Last Updated Monday, March 14, 2022 8:14PM EDT

OTTAWA – More new electric vehicles hit the road in Canada last year than ever before but the growth is nowhere near what is happening in Europe.

Statistics Canada says 65,253 new battery-only and plug-in hybrid electric cars were registered in the first nine months of 2021, more than the number registered across 12 months in any previous year.

In all of 2020, Canadians registered 54,353 electric vehicles, often referred to as EVs. In 2019, there were 56,165.

Data for the final three months of 2021 is not yet available but for the first nine months, EVs represented five per cent of new cars registered, up from three per cent in both 2020 and 2019.

Joanna Kyriazis, a program manager at Clean Energy Canada, said it is good news to see growth in Canada’s EV market, but it’s not keeping pace with Europe.

In 2019, France, Germany and the United Kingdom were on par with Canada with electric cars making up between 2.5 and three per cent of all new registrations. By last year, electric vehicles made up almost 18 per cent of new registrations in the U.K., 19 per cent in France and 26 per cent in Germany.

“So they started at the same place as Canada in 2019 and in two years they’ve seen sales really skyrocket,” Kyriazis said. “So I’m hoping that Canada is about to see that same sort of exponential growth in EV sales if we can get around these supply issues.”

Kyriazis said demand in Canada is strong, pointing to a recent survey Clean Energy Canada did that found 80 per cent of Canadians were open to buying an electric car before the recent spike in gas prices.

She said the issue is availability.

“Record-low inventory levels are making it so dealerships can’t keep up and Canadian drivers are waiting not just months, but in some cases years, to get their hands on a new EV,” she said.

Canada has set targets that by 2030, half of new cars registered will be zero-emission vehicles, and by 2035, all of them. That includes battery-only, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is currently consulting on how best to hit those targets, including a mandatory sales quota system similar to those that already exist provincially in Quebec and British Columbia.

Dealerships that don’t sell a big enough proportion of zero-emission vehicles face financial penalties.

Kyriazis said sales mandates are a critical part of the solution because they compel automakers to adjust their production and distribution of vehicles and she said Guilbeault has to follow through with one nationally.

In a written statement Monday, Guilbeault said the government remains committed to doing it.

Three in every four electric vehicles registered in Canada last year were sold in B.C. and Quebec. Kyriazis said the mandates are the main reason because they compel automakers to ship most of the available electric vehicles to dealers in those provinces.

Quebec and B.C. also have provincial rebates layered on top of the $2,500 to $5,000 rebate offered by the federal government for many new electric car purchases.

Brian Kingston, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, said automakers believe the rebates, not the sales quotas, are what makes the difference.

“We don’t see evidence of ZEV mandates or quotas having any impact on demand,” he said. “In both B.C. and Quebec, we saw an uptick the moment the (cash) incentive came in place.”

In Ontario, when the newly elected Progressive Conservative government did away with a provincial rebate in 2018, sales plummeted. Last spring, when Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick introduced provincial ZEV rebates, electric car sales began to climb.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador also started rebate programs last year but their EV sales statistics aren’t reported individually by Statistics Canada.

Kingston’s group represents Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which account for almost two-thirds of the passenger vehicles produced in Canada. The association last week launched a campaign to push the federal government to do more for EV adoption, including investing in public education, investing more in public charging networks, increasing the size of the rebate as much as another $10,000, and expanding which cars qualify for it.

The next federal budget is widely expected to expand the program to used vehicles and more expensive ones, though it’s not clear how much bigger the rebate would get.

The automakers do not want the government to proceed with a sales mandate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2022.

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Shortages of some baby formula in Quebec due to panic buying, U.S. supply issues



MONTREAL — When Catherine Labrecque-Baker went to purchase hypoallergenic baby formula in mid-April for her six-month-old baby, her Quebec City pharmacist told her there was none left.

In response, Labrecque-Baker travelled to another pharmacy in the city and bought five times the amount she normally does. Then she started to stress as she fed her baby and watched her stockpile slowly shrink.

Her son has an intolerance to cow’s milk protein and relies on Alimentum, a product by American formula maker Abbott, which voluntarily recalled its products in February after four illnesses were reported in babies who had consumed powdered formula from its Michigan plant.

“What am I supposed to do?” Labrecque-Baker asked Monday in an interview. “I cried an entire night, wondering what will I do when I won’t have any more formula.”

The disruptions at Abbott, the United States’ largest formula maker, are causing supply issues for specific hypoallergenic formulas across Canada, according to Retail Council of Canada spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen.

But in Quebec, parents are noticing shortages of other formulas on the province’s pharmacy shelves — a result of panic buying, Wasylyshen said.

“There’s a ripple effect,” she said in an interview Monday, referring to parents like Labrecque-Baker who are scooping up more formula than normal because they fear it will go out of stock.

“We don’t want to see a return to panic buying — that approach doesn’t help anyone,” Wasylyshen said. “Some of our retailers have put limitations in place in terms of what customers can purchase, just to make sure there’s enough for everyone.”

Abbott’s decision to shut its Michigan plant exacerbated ongoing supply chain disruptions among formula makers, leaving fewer options on store shelves across much of the United States. The company is one of only a handful that produce the vast majority of the U.S. formula supply, so Abbott’s product recall — involving brands Similac, Alimentum and EleCare — wiped out a large segment of the market intended for babies with allergies or intolerance to cow’s milk protein.

On Monday, Abbott said it has reached an agreement with U.S. health officials to restart production at its Michigan factory, a key step toward easing a nationwide shortage.

Quebec is not facing the same kind of shortages as in the United States, but Wasylyshen said images of empty pharmacy shelves in the province started circulating online, causing anxiety.

The province’s Health Department on Monday said it’s working with Quebec’s association of pharmacy owners, the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires, to minimize the shortage’s impact.

“We are looking as far away as Europe to counter this lack of supply,” department spokesperson Marjorie Larouche said, adding that shortages are being noticed across Canada.

Marilie Beaulieu-Gravel of the pharmacy owners association said that after Abbott’s Alimentum formula disappeared from shelves, parents rushed to purchase Nutragimen, another hypoallergenic formula, made by Mead Johnson & Company.

“There isn’t a production issue with this product, but rather a domino effect,” Beaulieu-Gravel said Monday in an interview. “The demands for the products increase sharply and unexpectedly on the market.”

While Nutragimen products are expected to be back on shelves by mid-June, Beaulieu-Gravel said her association isn’t expecting the supply of Alimentum to return before the end of summer.

Meanwhile, some parents, including Labrecque-Baker, are left searching for formula everywhere, even online.

“I looked on Facebook Marketplace, on Kijiji … friends have been looking for me or giving me what they can,” Labrecque-Baker said. “This week, I spent $200 because I can’t wait and risk it. The more I can stock, the more days I can feed my child.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 17, 2022.

— With files from The Associated Press.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.


Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press

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If you thought gas prices were high, have you checked out diesel? – CBC News



There is little relief from pain at the pumps these days, especially as the price of diesel has nearly doubled in the last year.

Diesel is now averaging $2.29 per litre across Canada, and is even more expensive than premium gasoline. In the last month alone, a litre of diesel has climbed by 35 cents.

Some are stuck having to grin and bear it, like Peter Ruiter, a dairy farmer from Ottawa, who relies on diesel to power his farm equipment.

“The reality is I can’t go till these fields by hand — there’s just too many acres to do,” he said.

Rising fuel prices are another blow to consumers struggling with the escalating cost of living, as inflation hit a level in March that hasn’t been seen in decades.

And the sky-high cost of diesel means the transportation of goods has become more costly, as diesel — which is typically more efficient and economical — powers the trucks, the trains and some of the ships our supply chains rely on.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked a sharp rise in commodity prices, including crude oil. Many countries have introduced sanctions on Russia, which is a major exporter of oil and natural gas. At the same time, demand for fuel is climbing as economic activity picks up around the world.

“There’s been a diesel shortage globally, meaning that inventories are [at an] all-time low. I’ve never seen such low inventories,” Vijay Muralidharan, a senior consultant at Kalibrate, an analytics firm that tracks fuel prices.

Another part of the reason diesel prices have soared across North America is because of record exports from the U.S. Gulf Coast. The majority of the fuel is destined for South America, where countries are burning diesel for electricity as the hydropower supply falls during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter season.

There is an increased reliance on diesel in some of those countries this year, said Muralidharan, because of reduced supplies of natural gas.

Diesel prices are at currently at record highs in many parts of the world, including Canada. (CBC)

It also comes at a time when more and more families are needing assistance, said Emily-anne King, co-executive director of Backpack Buddies, an organization that supplies food to more than 4,000 children in British Columbia.

“It’s really alarming for us to see these price increases,” said King. “Not delivering is simply not an option.… We’ve made these commitments and we will continue to find ways to get there and be there for the families and kids that we support.”

The organization itself is feeling the pinch of sky-high diesel prices, as costs are rising to deliver food throughout the province to families that are struggling to make ends meet.

“These last couple of weeks, we have felt more pressure and received more calls from communities and individuals that are needing support,” she said. “And it just isn’t slowing down.”

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Gas prices: Average in Canada tops $2 for first time – CTV News



Gasoline prices are showing no signs of letting up as the average price in Canada tops $2 a litre for the first time.

Natural Resources Canada says the average price across the country for regular gasoline hit $2.06 per litre on Monday for an all-time high.

The average was a nine-cent jump from the $1.97 per litre record set last week, and is up about 30 cents a litre since mid-April.

Prices averaged about $2.34 a litre in Vancouver on Monday, while in Toronto the average was almost $2.09 per litre. Edmonton, in contrast, averaged just under $1.69 per litre.

Gasoline prices have been elevated since late February when oil spiked to around US$100 a barrel after Russia invaded Ukraine, while the price jumped to over US$110 per barrel last week.

Prices have also been spiking more recently as the reopening of the economy, and the start of the busy travel season, have led to high demand for gasoline that refiners have limited capacity to meet.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022. 

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