Canada Sets Ambitious 2035 Goal for Zero-Emission Vehicles Amid Industry Pushback

A Bold Move to Combat Climate Change

Canada has taken a significant step in its fight against climate change by mandating that all new cars sold by 2035 must be zero-emission. This bold move, announced by Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, aims to substantially reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels and aligns with global efforts to mitigate environmental impact.

Phased Implementation and Industry Response

The federal government’s strategy, dubbed the Electric Vehicle Availability Standard, outlines a phased approach to this ambitious goal. Starting in 2026, one-fifth of all vehicles sold must be fully electric or plug-in hybrids.

This requirement will increase to three-fifths by 2030, leading up to the 2035 deadline when all new vehicles must be zero-emission, with the exception of emergency vehicles, reports The Guardian.

Automakers have expressed concerns, arguing that the targets set by Ottawa are unrealistic. They cite the higher cost of electric vehicles (EVs) and the inconsistent nature of the charging infrastructure across Canada as significant hurdles.

To address these challenges, the government has made concessions, allowing plug-in hybrids that can drive at least 80km on all-electric charge before switching to fossil fuels to qualify as zero-emission vehicles.

Credit System and Compliance

To enforce compliance, automakers who fail to meet the sales target can purchase credits, each valued at C$20,000, from manufacturers who exceed their targets or invest in charging infrastructure. However, companies can only offset a maximum of 10% of their total compliance through this system.

International Context and Regional Successes

The guidelines, first announced in 2021 and updated recently, are part of Canada’s efforts to align with other nations like the European Union and the US, which have set their own sales or emissions requirements to boost electric vehicle sales. The EU’s current plan targets a 55% reduction in automotive emissions by 2030 and aims for zero emissions by 2035.

Current Challenges and Regional Progress

Recent statistics indicate that Canada has a considerable journey ahead to meet its targets. Only slightly more than 10% of new vehicles sold in the first nine months of this year were electric – about half of the required figure for 2026 under the new mandate.

However, there is hope in regional successes. Quebec and British Columbia, which implemented similar regulations, have already exceeded their targets well ahead of schedule.

Quebec boasts 20% electric car sales, while British Columbia has reached 25%, thanks to additional financial incentives for buyers.

Conversely, Ontario, the country’s largest car market, saw a decline in electric vehicle adoption after the scrapping of provincial incentives in 2018.

Economic Investments and Future Outlook

To support this transition, Canada has announced significant subsidies for battery production facilities. Investments in companies like Northvolt, Stellantis, and Volkswagen are projected to cost C$43.6 billion by 2033, as reported by the parliamentary budget officer.

In conclusion, while Canada’s zero-emission vehicle mandate faces industry skepticism and infrastructural challenges, the government’s commitment to a greener future is clear.

With strategic planning, investment, and regional successes as guiding examples, Canada’s ambitious 2035 goal could be a significant stride in global environmental stewardship.

Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all electric vehicle-related news, covering brands such as Tesla, Ford, GM, BMW, Nissan and others. He fulfills a similar role at the drone news site Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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