The sale of new petrol cars will be banned by 2035. Is Canada ready?

In the summer of 2021, as Covid continued to change our lives, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an easy-to-miss announcement: Canada would ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

While that date may seem a long way off, it will have a huge impact on the nearly half a million people who work in the automotive industry. With the move to EVs set in stone, a slew of changes to the Canadian workforce are needed to meet the needs of tomorrow. To get a sense of the changing habits of car buyers and the readiness of the auto industry to meet their demands, Deloitte surveyed 26,000 people from 25 countries, including about 1,000 from Canada, for its 2022 Global Automotive Consumer Study.

We spoke with Ryan Robinson, automotive research lead for Deloitte, about what EV adoption means for Canadians.

What has your research revealed about Canadians’ views on buying EV cars?

Only 10 percent of respondents to our survey told us they want a full battery electric vehicle, or BEV, for their next vehicle. The bottom line is that we’re just not moving fast enough to get consumers where they need to be by the end of this decade, or by the middle of the next decade, to meet Canada’s EV goals.

Is the Canadian market ready to take on the entire EV value chain, from manufacturing to aftermarket services and beyond?

There have been a handful of high-profile announcements about developing some of Canada’s existing vehicle assembly facilities to produce EVs. But as you start moving down the automotive value chain, you need to prepare from a retail standpoint. For example, the people who tell us they want to buy an EV as their next vehicle also say they are more likely to buy it through a virtual sales process. It’s not just about what consumers want to buy, but also how they want to buy it.

It’s a very different way of selling cars.

Employees need new digital tools and new sales approaches. There are also clear effects from a service and maintenance point of view, with technicians increasingly expected to be software engineers. Companies are starting to implement new training programs for dealers and technicians. But at the moment it really differs considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer.

What new jobs will be created downstream?

There may be opportunities for aftermarket service providers, such as auto parts or auto repair businesses, if these businesses can afford the necessary computer-based diagnostic tools. It has become expensive for after-sales players to stay in the game as new vehicles are more complicated and require specialized equipment for diagnosis and repair.

In addition, there is an emerging science associated with the afterlife of EV cars.

Precisely. There are many discussions about what will be the second or third use for EV batteries. The climate crisis raises broader questions about end-of-life or recycling aspects of EVs. These considerations are also part of the conversation

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