OTTAWA — Transport Canada data shows more than 14,000 electric vehicles were purchased nationwide during the first three months of the federal government’s new rebate program.
On May 1, Ottawa began offering rebates of up to $5,000 on the purchase of some electric vehicles.
The rebate is intended to bring the price of zero-emission vehicles closer to their gas-powered cousins.
Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, says the rebate is the only thing he can point to as a reason why electric car sales jumped 30 per cent since January.
The increase happened despite a drastic drop in electric car purchases in Ontario in the first three months of the year after the province cancelled its rebate in 2018.
The federal government wants 10 per cent of all cars sold to be zero-emission by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent of sales by 2040.
The Canadian Press
From Nazis to hippies: End of the road for Volkswagen Beetle
FRANKFURT — Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model this week at its plant in Puebla, Mexico. It’s the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.
It has been: a part of Germany’s darkest hours as a never-realized Nazi prestige project. A symbol of Germany’s postwar economic renaissance and rising middle-class prosperity. An example of globalization, sold and recognized all over the world. An emblem of the 1960s counterculture in the United States. Above all, the car remains a landmark in design, as recognizable as the Coca-Cola bottle.
The car’s original design — a rounded silhouette with seating for four or five, nearly vertical windshield and the air-cooled engine in the rear — can be traced back to Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche, who was hired to fulfil Adolf Hitler’s project for a “people’s car” that would spread auto ownership the way the Ford Model T had in the U.S.
Aspects of the car bore similarities to the Tatra T97, made in Czechoslovakia in 1937, and to sketches by Hungarian engineer Bela Barenyi published in 1934. Mass production of what was called the KdF-Wagen, based on the acronym of the Nazi labour organization under whose auspices it was to be sold, was cancelled due to World War II. Instead, the massive new plant in what was then countryside east of Hanover turned out military vehicles, using forced labourers from all over Europe under miserable conditions.
Re-launched as a civilian carmaker under supervision of the British occupation authorities, the Volkswagen factory was transferred in 1949 to the Germany government and the state of Lower Saxony, which still owns part of the company. By 1955, the millionth Beetle — officially called the Type 1 — had rolled off the assembly line in what was now the town of Wolfsburg.
The United States became Volkswagen’s most important foreign market, peaking at 563,522 cars in 1968, or 40% of production. Unconventional, sometimes humorous advertising from agency Doyle Dane Bernbach urged car buyers to “Think small.”
“Unlike in West Germany, where its low price, quality and durability stood for a new postwar normality, in the United States the Beetle’s characteristics lent it a profoundly unconventional air in a car culture dominated by size and showmanship,” wrote Bernhard Rieger in his 2013 history, “The People’s Car.”
Production at Wolfsburg ended in 1978 as newer front drive models like the Golf took over. But the Beetle wasn’t dead yet. Production went on in Mexico from 1967 until 2003 — longer than the car had been made in Germany. Nicknamed the “vochito,” the car made itself at home as a rugged, Mexican-made “carro del pueblo.”
The New Beetle — a completely retro version build on a modified Golf platform — resurrected some of the old Beetle’s cute, unconventional aura in 1998 under CEO Ferdinand Piech, Ferdinand Porsche’s grandson. In 2012, the Beetle’s design was made a bit sleeker.
The end of the Beetle comes at a turning point for Volkswagen as it rebounds from a scandal over cars rigged to cheat on diesel emissions tests. The company is gearing up for mass production of the battery-driven compact ID.3, a car that the company predicts will have an impact like that of the Beetle and the Golf by bringing electric mobility to a mass market.
The last of 5,961 Final Edition versions of the Beetle is headed for a museum after ceremonies in Puebla on July 10 to mark the end of production.
AP photo blog about the last Volkswagen Beetle: https://bit.ly/32bXuMx
David McHugh, The Associated Press
Canada, California plan to work together to make cleaner cars, cut emissions
OTTAWA — Environment Minister Catherine McKenna signed a vehicle-emissions agreement with California Wednesday that the state’s governor and auto industry experts see as a signal that Canada is going to side with California in a U.S. dispute over emissions standards.
The agreement is aimed at harmonizing efforts to cut pollution from cars and pickup trucks, including emissions standards, accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles and collaborating to make fuels that are used burned more cleanly.
“In terms of Canada, 25 per cent of our carbon pollution comes from transportation,” McKenna said. “To change that we need cleaner cars. Working with California is a way forward.”
The agreement comes as U.S. President Donald Trump is preparing to roll back emissions standards set by former president Barack Obama. Trump’s plan would take away California’s long-standing legal authority to go its own route on vehicle emissions. California is pushing back hard against those changes, including in court, and Gov. Gavin Newsom indicated Wednesday California has no intention of backing away from that fight.
The Obama standards would have required vehicles to become more fuel-efficient every year between 2017 and 2025, so that by the end of the period, cars and trucks would burn 50 per cent less gasoline and emit 50 per cent less carbon dioxide.
Trump intends to freeze the standards at 2020 levels.
Canada has long harmonized its vehicle emissions standards with the United States, both an economic and environmental necessity born of the deep integration of the U.S. and Canadian auto industries. When Trump said last year he intended to roll back the targets, Canada launched its own review of the emissions plan.
McKenna indicated Wednesday Canada isn’t likely to announce its plans for vehicle emissions standards until after the White House makes its final decision on the matter. She said the ideal result would be for the U.S. to continue with one national standard but acknowledged right now it looks as though there will be two — one national standard and one followed by California and at least 13 other states that have joined California’s fight.
If that happens, Canada is leaning towards California.
“If there are two choices in the U.S. our focus is about how do we get meaningful cuts to climate pollution,” McKenna said.
Newsom and California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols perceive the agreement with Canada that way. The two joined a news conference call with McKenna Wednesday, in which Newsom said the agreement “reinforces our efforts and reinforces our commitment and resolve” to push on with the Obama standards.
Nichols indicated the agreement will even help in the battle with Washington.
“The auto industry is looking for leadership here and having Canada signalling that it is in general alignment with us on these issues can only be helpful in this broader debate,” she said.
But Canadian auto-industry officials warn McKenna not to be so hasty. They say picking a side in this fight will undermine the work of negotiating the auto chapter in the new North American free-trade agreement.
Huw Williams, director of public affairs for the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, said the agreement with California is “premature.”
“Canada should focus on one standard in the U.S. as opposed to looking like the 51st state,” he said.
Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, said the biggest environmental and economic benefit to Canada will be to align with a single national standard in the United States. He said Canada should be pressuring California and the U.S. federal government to resume their talks to keep a single standard rather than throwing its eggs into California’s basket.
“We have to ask ourselves why would want to support a bifurcated market or standard for vehicle emissions,” he said. “We spent just two years negotiating the new NAFTA, which is really designed to reinforce the integrated economies.”
Nantais, whose association represents the Canadian arms of Fiat Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, said if the U.S. splits its standard and Canada picks a side, it could raise prices of vehicles here or limit available car models as companies simply refuse to produce cars that meet Canada’s and California’s demands.
McKenna and Newsom both stressed that together, the economies of Canada, California and the other 13 states represent at least half the auto market in North America, giving weight to their joint efforts.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
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