New report illustrates how carmakers’ EV pledges mask their push to sell more polluting SUVs, jeopardizing efforts to cut carbon emissions now
Report calls out automaker duplicity on climate change
Toronto, Ont. – A new report released from Environmental Defence illustrates how carmakers’ promises of an all-electric future mask their push to sell more gas-powered SUVs now, contributing to rising carbon emissions from transportation. The report, titled “Car Wars: EVs versus SUVs and the Battle for a Cleaner Future,” argues that carmakers’ plans to sell millions of gas-powered SUVs and pickups means Canada will not meet its electric vehicle (EV) targets and transition to electric cars, unless the federal government takes strong action.
“The car companies are talking a big game, filled with new promises of a cavalcade of electric cars, trucks and SUVs that’s just around the corner. But Canadians should take these claims with a big grain of salt,” said Keith Brooks, Programs Director for Environmental Defence. “The car companies make these promises over and over again, but they routinely fail to deliver, at least on scale. Meanwhile, they evade regulations and push ever more polluting SUVs on Canadians, all to pad the companies’ bottom line.”
Transportation is the second largest source of emissions in Canada, second only to oil and gas extraction. And it’s a sector in which emissions have been steadily rising for decades even while vehicle fuel efficiency has been steadily improving. The increase in emissions is in large part because Canadians are driving larger and larger vehicles – so much so that four of every five passenger vehicles sold in Canada today are SUVs and other light trucks – and only 1.6 per cent of those are electric. And Canadians now drive the most carbon-spewing vehicles in the world. Over the last decade, the rise of SUVs and pickups in Canada added about 18 million additional tonnes of carbon emissions.
This trend is unlikely to reverse itself without government intervention. Automakers spend millions of dollars promoting their top gas-fueled vehicles and comparatively little spending on advertising EVs. Most dealers do not stock EVs on their lots. And the car companies lobby against climate policy, including any policy that would force them to sell more EVs.
“The car companies continue to get good press for each successive announcement of yet-another line up of electric vehicles, but the truth is they are banking on making and selling millions more gas-guzzling SUVs. What else should we make of the fact that GM and Ford plan to make 5 million SUVs and trucks in North America in 2026, but only about 300,000 EVs?” added Brooks. “This report is a challenge to automakers and to the federal government: If a fleet of electric vehicles is really just around the corner, then let’s make car companies sell them here. And while we’re at it, let’s accelerate the move away from gas-powered SUVs, and make EVs more affordable.”
The report draws on a variety of sources to assemble a picture of how carmakers are hiding behind an EV smokescreen, including research from Quebec-based Environmental group Équiterre, which uncovered how Canadian auto advertising is dominated by gas-guzzling SUVs.
The report also makes a series of recommendations for policy makers:
- Put new taxes on SUVs and pickups and divert the additional funds to EV incentives.
- Strengthen fuel economy regulations to ensure that Canada’s regulations are aligned with the toughest in North America.
- Introduce a strict zero-emission vehicle standard to require car companies to sell an increasing percentage of electric cars, and 100% EVs by 2035 at the latest.
- Improve financial incentives to make EVs more affordable for everyone.
Access the full report here
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.
For more information and to arrange an interview please contact: Allen Braude, Environmental Defence, firstname.lastname@example.org