Blame Canada!

Perhaps it shouldn’t have come as quite so big a surprise. After all, it’s a big country with a lot of roads being supported by fuel tax. The way in which it’s being done seems very out of character for the Canadians, though. It seems clear and evident that the Canadian government is stonewalling electric cars — including those made right there in Canada!

Two electric car manufacturers, Zenn Motor Company from Quebec, and Dynasty out of Vancouver, have plug-in low-speed electric cars in production. Zenn’s designs have earned them awards in Europe, and their cars are driving in urban areas of the United States. It is all the more clear that no one is a prophet in his own town, though. Canada is flat-out stonewalling sales of the vehicles within their own country. Excuses vary with each phone call. One time, it’s claimed that they haven’t complied with a law, though they show proof that they have. Another time it’s that the department is considering revamping the requirements because they’re too broad — which avoids the question but does not answer to why Zenn is not being allowed to sell their cars when they comply with existing law.

The cost of transportation and import duties can account for a large part of the costs. In selling within their own country, the manufacturers would be able to be more competitive. But their homeland government doesn’t seem willing to budge. Dynasty has already given up fighting with their government. Both companies are about ready to take their manufacturing operations to more friendly ground.

What’s the real reason behind this? Why would Canada want to stop a company from bringing a car to market which offsets 6 tons of carbon a year, when they’re unable to meet the Kyoto Protocol agreement as it is? The same root as most evils, it’s all about money. The government taxes gasoline and diesel, and supports their roads and highways with that tax money. If they allow electric cars, that revenue is reduced. If the E-cars should become popular, that would put a major dent in their budget. For now, at least, it seems they’re more worried about the lost taxes than complying with the Kyoto treaty.

UPDATE: Canada has seen the light and Zenn’s e-cars will see Canadian roads, but the decision came too late for Dynasty, and Zenn continues to examine if they care to remain there, after the way they were treated.

Barak Obama is no fool. He has come out in strong public support of the hybrid, but been far less vocal in his support of the all-electric plug-in cars. It would seem he’s being a realist on two fronts. Firstly, there’s concern that the U.S. buyers will reject an electric vehicle which cannot be driven across the country (though relatively few ever do such driving,) but more importantly, perhaps he thought this all through and realized there’d be a need for a period of transition to allow brainstorming for a means of paying for the roads that the E-cars will drive on. That puts him one step ahead of most of us, who are just now realizing the impact an electric car may have upon the Federal Highway funds and other public benefits funded by the gasoline taxes at Federal and State levels. In some cases, cities and counties also stand to lose revenue as gasoline sales decline.

We’re entering a new era. The benefits are enormous, but there will be growing pains. For right now, that seems to be the pain of lost tax revenue. We will have to ferret out a solution, if we’re going to enjoy the government’s support of our bold new clean Green cars.


One Response to “Blame Canada!”

  1. Mark Corrall on March 6th, 2009 2:18 pm

    On the CTV news this week they ran a story about an electric car that was coming to canada. Built in the US and financed by a canadian billionaire. How is he getting this car here when we have electric cars built here that we can’t sell here. This car is designed for the rich selling at over 100,000 each and is only a two seater sports car.

    There is something wrong with this picture, he must have some pull.

    Hope this helps your cause.

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