Electric Vehicles Demonstrate Inept Governments via Grants, Mandates and New Taxes

Developed countries around the world are literally throwing money at trying to electrify the transportation sector (passenger cars and light trucks). Canada is no exception as at both the Federal and Provincial levels many announcements and articles have displayed how they have handed out grants to manufacturers of the vehicles, batteries to power them as well as charging stations. Depending on where you are around the world EV buyers receive a variety of incentives, including direct grants, tax breaks (no sales or VAT taxes), low-cost charging stations, etc. all  with taxpayer dollars.

Surprisingly despite all the billions of our tax dollars being handed out Canadians are not buying those EV at the same pace as the rest of the world as an article a few days ago noted: “Statistics Canada data show EVs made up one in 14 new vehicles registered in the first half of this year, compared with one in 20 a year earlier.“ The article went on to state China was responsible for 56% of global sales and for Canada to achieve the 60% sales target for 2030 they would have to grow from 55,600 to about 480,000 over six months to hit that target. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact the Canadian Automobile Association lists 80 EV models with an average sales price of $82,000 and, EV lose considerable range in our cold winters?

Two of Canada’s taxpayers smaller handouts

Lion Electric Company: Back onMarch 15, 2021 a joint announcement made by PM Trudeau and Quebec Premier Legault handed Lion Electric $100 million of our tax dollars and labelled it as an “investment”!  The grant they handed out was 54% of the cost ($185 million) of building a “battery assembly plant” in the Laurentians but labelling it as an investment seems a stretch as, if, and when, Lion Electric generate a profit we taxpayers will not be recipients of dividend payments or appreciating shareholdings.  On the latter note it is an interesting exercise to see how the shares have performed since the grant announcement.  Shares in the entity appear to have had an initial value on the NYSE of US$16.31/share on March 1, 2021, and as of November 18,2022 were valued at US$3.01 a drop of 81.54%! Interestingly Lion recently announced their third quarter 2022 results and stated their revenue was up 244% but losses increased by 316%! Quite the investment!

Taiga Motors Corporation: On July 12, 2021, the Mayor of Shawinigan and the Federal and Quebec Governments announced forgivable loans and grants to Taiga which would allow them to manufacture electrically  powered “personal watercraft, snowmobiles, electric motorization systems and battery packs.“ The collective amount was $50 million (40%) towards the $125.17 million cost of the new plant. Car and Driver tested one of the Taiga snowmobile models in March 2022 and while they didn’t disparage it, they suggested you better not stray too far from your base due to their limited miles range (62 miles for the one tested).  The price was also rather startling with the “Nomad” priced at US$19,490 whereas a Ski-Doo or Polaris model would be in the US$10/12,000 range with much higher mileage. Taiga’s initial share price after their launch in April 2021 was $13.25 and it now sits at $4.00 meaning it has dropped 70% and if one looks at their year over year results their losses as of the 9 months ended September 30th were down from $88.8 million to $35.9 million. Can we really trust politicians to create wealth using our tax dollars to electrify our transportation and other sectors?

As noted, the foregoing handouts were small ones, but we Ontarians have been subjected to handouts by the Ford and Trudeau led governments totalling in the billions aimed at the same goal of electrifying the transportation sector (automobiles and light trucks). They handed out $1 billion to Stellantis, $590 million to Ford $518 million to GM and $260 million to Honda meaning $2.368 billion of our tax dollars were committed to ensure we retain some of the jobs we have had for decades in the auto sector. The province and the feds have also been trying to attract battery manufacturers and will supply LG Energy with $1 billion of our tax dollars as well as an unknown amount to Umicore, a Belgian global metals refiner who will build a battery materials facility.

In addition to the foregoing taxpayer grants, the Federal Government also have the ”Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program aimed at handing out $680 million to entice people and companies to build “charging and refueling stations”. They apparently see this as “one of the key barriers to ZEV adoption“ but we taxpayers should suspect its related to the average sale price of those EV as noted above and our concern about them losing range during our cold winter days.

What’s happening elsewhere? 

Norway: A recent article; “Norway Became an EV Paradise, Now It’s Imposing a Weight Tax and Bringing  Back the VAT“ noted upcoming legislation in Norway will rescind most of the favourable benefits that have made it the country with the highest EV sales per capita. The new legislation will remove the many perks granted to EV buyers displayed in a graft posted in an article a few months ago. The VAT in Norway alone will add 25% to the purchase price of an EV and the weight tax another 2/3%.  As that occurs, we would expect, the 78 % EV sales have so far represented in 2022, will fall, as they will cost considerably more than a new ICE vehicle once those new taxes become legislated.

United Kingdom:  It appears the UK has recently become  concerned  the net zero target may well lead to “five fuel taxes: fuel duty, vehicle excise duty, landfill tax, the carbon price floor and the emission trading schemedrying up according to an article in the Financial Times!  As a result of that concern a “tax vacuum” will be created during a time when the country is running significant deficits so, as a start, they plan to charge EV owners with the vehicle excise duty.  Grants being handed out are also on a downward trail as purchase grants for new EV have been reduced from £5,000. to £1,500.

Targeted EV sales in Canada

The 2022 Federal budget expanded the push to electrify the transportation sector in Canada requiring 20% of all vehicles sold in Canada to be EV by 2026, 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. In addition, the budget extended the $5,000 per vehicle grant to help achieve those targets. Annual new auto sales in Canada vary between 1.5 million to 2 million so by 2035 at the low end $7.5 billion of our tax dollars will possibly wind up supporting those “mandated” sales. The other issue relates to lost sales taxes etc. from ICE vehicles as outlined in a January 17, 2022 article, published by the CPA (Canadian Professional Accountants), noting: “The federal government collects nearly $6 billion per year in gas and diesel excise taxes, not including the GST or HST on those purchases. Add in provincial fuel taxes and over $16 billion in annual government revenue that will disappear once Canadian drivers are weaned off the gas pump. It’s enough to rip a large hole in public finances.“ It is worth pointing out the CPA article was using 2021 data and the price of both diesel and gasoline have climbed considerably since then meaning the revenue lost added to government grants will increase taxpayer costs to over $30 billion annually.

Conclusion:

Looking only at the Trudeau led government’s plan to electrify the transportation sector in Canada demonstrates their inept ability to govern the country responsibly due to their insane belief Canada’s emissions reduction from the transportation sector will impact the climate. Not a chance!

Lion Electric, King of the EV Jungle Grants?

A recent article in the Financial Post titled: “Lion Electric posts profit as sales and subsidies pick up speed” was eye-catching simply for it’s inference on how it was worded, and suggesting “subsidies” played a role in it posting a profit. The article went on to quote their chief executive as follows; “We delivered the highest quarterly number of vehicles ever with 105 deliveries in Q2,” said Marc Bédard, Lion’s chief executive. The article went on to state: “The good fortune is set to continue, at least for the next little while. As of Aug. 4, the Quebec company’s order book was flush, with 2,357 vehicles valued at $575 million and 226 charging stations representing $3 million.”

Curiosity piqued, a look at how Lion Electric’s stock has performed on the TSE was a must and as it turned out the price over the past year fell from $18.47 CAD a share on August 9, 2021 to a close of $6.95 CAD on August 5, 2022 for a drop of $11.52 (-62.4%) a share over the past year.  Hmm, wonder why, as one would assume a company roaring to a profit would attract investors but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Lion Electric?  Maybe it’s not the king of the school bus and truck EV jungle?

Taxpayer subsidies

An article two weeks before the above article appeared in the FP and headlined “Lion Electric CEO predicts Ottawa’s new EV-truck subsidy will boost demand”.  The following quotes from the article might explain (partially) why Lion suddenly achieved profitability!  The article stated:“Stacking the Quebec subsidy of $144,000 on top of the federal grant would result in a total rebate of nearly $250,000 on the Lion6 model, putting it on par, price-wise, with a comparable diesel-powered truck.” And a further sentence said: “Similarly, stacking the Quebec rebate of $200,000 on the federal grant for the Lion8T would result in a total rebate of $350,000, making it just slightly more expensive than its non-electric competitors.”

An article two weeks before the above article appeared in the FP and headlined “Lion Electric CEO predicts Ottawa’s new EV-truck subsidy will boost demand”.  The following quotes from the article might explain (partially) why Lion suddenly achieved profitability!  The article stated:“Stacking the Quebec subsidy of $144,000 on top of the federal grant would result in a total rebate of nearly $250,000 on the Lion6 model, putting it on par, price-wise, with a comparable diesel-powered truck.” And a further sentence said: “Similarly, stacking the Quebec rebate of $200,000 on the federal grant for the Lion8T would result in a total rebate of $350,000, making it just slightly more expensive than its non-electric competitors.” 

Yet another article appearing in e-magazine Sustainable Bus in March 2022 was about how the Quebec government was investing $18 million into 120 school buses and stated “The subsidy for each bus is worth $150,000. The government’s plan is to electrify 65 per cent of its school buses by 2030.”  It also noted: “Quebec announced last year that the government will fund the majority of the $5 billion purchase of electric buses with $3.65 billion of the contract supplemented by the federal government”! If one goes back to examine the 2nd Quarter results for Lion you note the 105 deliveries consisted of 90 school buses and 15 trucks generating revenue of US $29.5 million  and if we use the $150K per school bus grant and $300K per truck grant the government subsidies amount to approximately CAD $15 million representing approximately 40% of gross revenue in the quarter. Without those subsidies the “operating loss” would have amounted to CAD $43 million!  With those kinds of subsidies, we shouldn’t be surprised Lion is receiving more orders.

Source of Grant Money

As noted above the grants to Lion are sourced principally from the Federal taxpayers with additional funds provided by Quebec taxpayers but in the latter case we should probably surmise it also is funded in large part via those same Federal taxpayers via the “equalization” payments the Federal government pass out.  As noted in the undated letter from Finance Minister Freeland sent to the Quebec Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, Quebec will be handed $13.666 billion or 62.35% of the total equalization payments to the five provinces who receive them, for the 2022-23 year.  Surely that kind of a handout goes a long way to allowing the Province of Quebec to be able to provide grants without tapping into their own tax revenues!

School Bus Orders

One of the largest orders received by Lion for those electric school buses came from First Student a company whose head office is in Cincinnati, Ohio with operations in the US and seven of Canada’s provinces.  Back on May 17, 2021 a press release they issued announced the “largest zero-emission school bus order of 260 buses”.  Assuming the Quebec government handed out the $150K per bus would suggest $39 million will go or has gone to Lion Electric for those buses. 

Another order for Lion’s buses came from Transdev Canadaa public private transport company limited with a Board of Directors and jointly owned by the Caisse des Depots Group (66%) and the Rethmann Group (34%) a German family owned company.  It should be noted CDPQ is the Quebec version of the Canada Pension Plan so they invest the contributions of all Quebec taxpayers to the plan. The order from Transdev Canada was made in early July for another 30 Lion electric school buses in addition to the 27 previously ordered and reputedly already in service.  So, at the $150K per school bus handed out by the province another $8.6 million will find its way into the Lion Electric bank account and future recipients of CDPQ pension payments should cross their fingers those school buses will be as efficient as those fossil fueled ones or Transdev might turn out as a negative investment.

It seems obvious that Lion Electric has twigged the politicians into being convinced electrifying everything is the way to go and will create jobs and benefits to the Quebec economy (possibly via Quebec Hydro for charging those buses)?  As a result Quebec politicians have somehow decided they need to hand out taxpayer funded grants to save the world from “climate change” while picking what they consider new technology and the companies that will benefit!  As an observer over several decades, I am skeptical politicians have ever been able to pick winners but have often picked losers’!

My vote for “King of the EV Grants” goes to Lion Electric!

The EV transition in the eyes of the Beholden Part 2

Part 1 of this series outlined some of the costs related to the push by the Trudeau/Singh led government to eliminate the sale of ICE powered light-duty vehicles and replace them with electric vehicles (EV). Their plan aims to have EV represent 100% of new light -duty sales (2 million annually) by 2035.  The goal appears to have been concocted without a cost/benefit analysis or consider other aspects that will have dire consequences.  Let’s explore the latter!

Car Battery Replacement

We start with a short story out of St. Pete’s Florida where a father bought his daughter a used EV with only 60,000 miles on it for $11K for her to use to drive to school and back. After only six months the battery died on the Ford Focus and they were informed by the local dealership a new battery would cost $14K or $3K more than they paid for the car and the cost estimate didn’t include labour or installation costs. They were also told the batteries weren’t even available. Another story making the rounds was how a Tesla owner out of Norway found out it would cost him $22K for a replacement battery and repairs so he blew up his car rather than pay the price to repair it.  Stories like these will certainly make people question the EV transition and cause them to simply keep and maintain their ICE vehicles as long as they can. Stories like the two aforementioned ones suggest EV have only scrap value once their batteries die and need replacement.

What happens to those Dead EV Batteries

So, one should wonder, what’s going to happen to those EV batteries once they they die? A recent article focused on the USA had this to say: “Due to electric vehicles’ rising popularity, it goes without saying that their battery waste will become a major issue. Experts estimate that 12 million tons of batteries will be thrown away by 2030, transportation and storage could prove a logistical nightmare.” It seems apparent EV batteries weighing 1,000 Lbs. after their 6-to-10-year life ends will have to be recycled. At present there are only four lithium-ion recycling centers in the USA so those batteries will need to be transported to those sites or tossed into waste sites where they will leak toxins.  In respect to the foregoing the article also noted: “They are also a fire hazard if and when stored together. A report by the Environmental Protection Agency found that between 2013 and 2020, more than 240 lithium-ion battery fires broke out across 64 municipal waste facilities.” The above suggests recycling EV batteries will be much more complex and even dangerous then the process of recycling ICE motors raising the costs of dealing with the waste they create.

Looming problems for EV batteries

A fairly recent article titled:“Dark clouds on the horizon for electric vehicles” pointed out two potential problems associated with the continued production of EV.  The first one was in respect to the probability the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is expected to classify lithium carbonate; a major component of EV batteries, as; “dangerous to human health”. Should that classification be endorsed by other countries or regions one should expect it will affect the processing and manufacture of their power supply, ie: batteries negatively?  The second potential problem the article highlighted was in respect to the recent sinking of a cargo ship with 4,000 automobiles and many of them EV and noted, “from a fire where electric-vehicle batteries were part of the reason,”!  The article went on to state: “Most of the EVs will be manufactured in foreign countries far removed from American ports” and evidenced it with the following chart:

Automobiles manufactured per year 1950/2019:

China None / 28 million

United States 8 million / 11 million

Japan 31 thousand / 9.8 million

India 15 thousand / 5 million

Germany 300 thousand / 5 million

South Korea None / 4 million

The cargo ship, the Felicity Ace was carrying Porsches, Bentleys, VWs and many were EV and the latter were apparently the cause of the fire. The ship was on its way from Europe to the US and the cargo was valued at US$500 million.  Needless to say, it sank despite efforts to extinguish the fire and tow it back to port. The potential losses affected the principal insurance company, Allianz Insurance and they recently published their annual Safety and Shipping Review” and in it noted the following:  “Car carriers have also been increasingly lost to fire, starting in cargo holds caused by malfunctions or electrical short circuits in vehicles before spreading quickly through open decks. AGCS noted that the growing numbers of electric vehicles transported by sea could complicate the matter further, as existing countermeasures may not respond effectively to an EV blaze. Loss expenses would be massive given the value of the car cargo, the cost of wreck removal, and pollution mitigation.”

Based on the foregoing one would expect insurance companies will raise their rates considerably; further adding to the costs of EV.

EV for police service

The concept of EV for the utilization of police service are popping up with Repentigny, Que., a town north of Montreal where City officials issued a release saying the project, which converted a Ford Mustang with a 300-kilometre battery range, into a police car, “will not only be eco-friendly but will also give the force a new visual identity.” In Ontario the City of Windsor has defined “its goal is to start replacing older unmarked police vehicles, sometimes used for administrative purposes, with fully electric cars.”  Barry Horrobin, the director of planning and physical resources for Windsor Police stated: ”Record-breaking fuel prices didn’t prompt the change, as they’ve been looking toward electrifying their fleet for a few years.”  One should wonder if the 40% drop in EV fuel efficiency during winter months in Canada will mean those police vehicles will use more electricity driving up the budgets of police forces.  Surely those municipalities aiming to improve their “visual identity” or concerned about “record-breaking fuel prices” have done their homework so municipal taxes won’t have to increase?  A story out of the UK suggests EV are not suitable for police response.  The Gloucestershire Constabulary in the Southwest city of Gloucester “has the largest full electric fleet in the UK, making up 21% of their 435 vehicles” and Chris Nelson, the Police and Crime Commissioner said; the vehicles “run out of puff” and no doubt with electric prices so very high in the UK will cost local taxpayers for charging those EV to provide the “puff” they need. 

We should be pretty sure running “out of puff” in Canadian winters will be the norm as we reach the point in 2035 where all sales of light-duty vehicles are mandated to be 100% EV which presumably includes police vehicles.

As researching the events leading to this series has disclosed more negative findings related to EV it appears Part 3 of this series is a necessity so stay tuned.

                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                    

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!