The EV transition in the eyes of the Beholden Part 1

A Bloomberg News author titled his recent article: Tipping point: U.S. crosses mass-adoption threshold for EVs of 5% of new car sales and went on noting; “Most successful new technologies — electricity, televisions, mobile phones, the internet, even LED lightbulbs — follow an S-shaped adoption curve. Sales move at a crawl in the early-adopter phase, then surprisingly quickly once things go mainstream.” The author’s prior sentence strongly suggested electric vehicles (EV) are a new technology but had the author bothered to simply Google search, “when was the first electric car invented” he would have discovered the date was around 1832 or about 190 years ago. There was no mention in the article about government grants handed out to EV purchasers for the cars or charging stations. The author obviously felt it was simply the “new technology” those buyers were endorsing to create that “S-shaped adoption curve” and not the taxpayer dollars supporting their sales.  Blinkers were fully on!

Another article from last week in the FP suggested EV sales in Canada in the first quarter of 2022 accounted for 8.2 % of new vehicle registrations and had the following chart to demonstrate that! 

What the foregoing article didn’t say was all light vehicle sales in Canada in the first quarter of 2021 had dropped by 12.3% to only 337,039 according to Automotive News meaning EV sales were about 27,600.

Cost to Taxpayer

The chart indicates the bulk of those sales were in the two provinces who provide grants BC (up to $3K) and Quebec (up to $7K) to EV purchasers. Most provinces also provide grants for home charging stations. In Ontario taxpayers have also joined with the Federal Government’s taxpayers providing Ford, GM and the Chrysler and Dodge factories in Brampton and Windsor collectively with over $2 billion in grants to manufacture EV in the province.

Another interesting and related issue was a video interview on June 29, 2022 by Financial Post’s Larysa Harapyn of Brian Kingston of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association in which he stated Canada would need 1.6 million public charges for the EV transition. Ontario has already provided funding for a number of charging stations as well as offering municipalities grants to assist them where and when needed but so far it’s only (term used lightly) $91 million. It is hard to determine the individual costs of those 1.6 million charging stations but looking at British Columbia the province is offering funding starting at “$20,000 per <50 kW DCFC installation, and ranges up to $80,000 per >100 kW charge port. These rebates can cover up to 50% of total project costs, including purchasing, planning, and installation costs.”  What that suggests is at the low end (assuming the price is similar in all provinces) those 1.6 million charging stations may cost taxpayers well over $32 billion dollars.  Totally mind blowing!

As if to underscore the uneconomical attributes associated with EV, another recent announcement by the Ontario Provincial Government and the Federal Government suggests the taxpayers of Ontario and the rest of Canada are a bottomless pit of funding.  The Press Release was headlined: “Umicore to build industrial scale battery materials manufacturing plant in Loyalist Township, first of its kind in North America” and stated: “Umicore plans to make a $1.5 billion investment to build a first of its kind industrial scale cathode and precursor materials manufacturing plant, in eastern Ontario.”  The release naturally rambles on about the benefits and only casually mentions what Mathias Miedreich, CEO of Umicore is quoted stating: “Moreover, we are most grateful to the Canadian and Ontario governments for their support and for their readiness to co-fund this planned project. The facility will help Canada and Umicore in their shared objective of achieving a carbon-neutral battery supply chain.” There is no mention of what the Canadian and Ontario taxpayers will be contributing but we should expect it will be at least a few hundred million.

Our Federal and Provincial Governments are both onside with their concept of satisfying the Canadian COP-26 commitments to eliminate fossil fuel use to achieve their net-zero targets. On the other hand, they seem immune to the fact many of the tax dollars they are using come from the Canadian oil and natural gas sector and taxes applied to us users of oil and gas. Their unprecedented spending and debt creation simply amlifies the negative effect on our economy causing energy poverty and job losses!

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this short series as we explore some of the issues that may make all of the spending highlighted above simply a waste of our tax dollars. 

The bad news could well be: Canezuela is just around the corner!

Author: parkergallantenergyperspectivesblog

Retired international banker.

12 thoughts on “The EV transition in the eyes of the Beholden Part 1”

  1. Parker, thank you for this. My previous comment did not register, so I will repeat it in brief. The federal government also gives subsidies of up to $5,000 to each EV purchaser, so a purchaser in Quebec can receive a combined total of $12,000 from the federal and provincial governments. The federal government plans to add to the financial subsidies the absolute requirement that vehicle manufacturers sell higher and higher percentages of EVs each year, regardless of consumer preferences (in other words, they will have to increase prices for internal combustion vehicles and cross-subsidize EVs by selling them below cost.) Neither COP 15 nor COP 26 included an agreement by all countries to reduce fossil fuel use by a specific amount by a specific year; that is a political decision taken by the Trudeau government, not an international treaty commitment. Finally, if one eliminated all light duty vehicles (cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks) in Canada, it would reduce national emissions by 13% and come nowhere close even to meeting the federal government’s 2030 target, let alone “decarbonization”. EVs are expensive, damaging to the environment, may overload our electricity generation capability, and offer only symbolic contributions to the radical goal of eliminating oil and gas use.

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    1. Couldn’t agree more. Especially the cost and overloading of the electrical system comments. Just for some fun with numbers and nothing else do to on a rainy afternoon I did some back-of-the-napkin calculations for my community of Kenora -population 15,000. it is a service hub and on the TransCanada so gets more vehicle traffic than the population alone would require. There are currently about 100 vehicle fueling points/hoses spread around dozen or so service stations, and for EV users three charging locations with 10 individual charging points in total. Given EVs need to be charged twice as often as gas vehicles need to be refuelled and that battery charging time is triple or so (20-45 minutes) compared gas tank fueling (10 minutes), it means our community will needs 500-600 retail charging points. At a current average of $130,000 per point (based on government subsidy projections) that’s a $60 million to $80 million investment along. But that’s just beginning, based on kW of demand and kWh of charging our small community would need to double its current 98 million annual kWh consumption, and that would mean doubling, even tripling the capacity of the current local distribution system of wires, transformers etc.to handle per demand periods, as well supply capacity would need to double from the current 100 MW to 200 MW, at a cost of $2 million per megawatt for construction. So we’re looking at $300 million in investments for our little corner of the world. Kenora represents roughly 1/10th of one per cent of Ontario’s population, so multiply $300 million by 1,000 and Ontario will need to investment – either through government (taxation) or business (customer dollars) some $300 billion to replace the charging needs EVs if all its gas vehiclesare replaced with EVs. That’s a major investment in time and money the starry-eyed EV crowd thinks is going to happen within decade. Good luck on that.

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  2. The NP had a great article about Guilbault trying to take trains around Canada. It was humorous that the infrastructure isn’t there for the green transition. A perfect anecdote for our plunging headfirst into a pool with no water.

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