A global shift toward electric vehicles is well underway, experts say
When General Motors cited plans to pivot toward electric and autonomous vehicle production as a key reason it had decided to mothball its Oshawa assembly plant, the company was talking about a future that many Canadians didn’t recognize.
But experts say the auto industry’s seismic shift away from the traditional internal combustion engine is already well underway.
“Pretty much every manufacturer’s making some decision and financial commitment to what the vehicle of the future is going to look like,” said David Adams, president and CEO of Global Automakers of Canada, an umbrella industry association that represents BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, and Volkswagen.
“Our members, all of them look at … decarbonized transportation as what the future is going to be.”
In a news release Monday, GM said it would cease current operations in Oshawa, as well as four plants in the U.S., by the end of 2019. The company said the decision would save it $6 billion, and enable it to double investment in its electric and autonomous vehicle programs in the next two years.
According to Adams full automation of vehicles is likely still “decades away.”
But electric vehicles — either battery electric or plug-in hybrids — make up a small but rapidly growing share of the market. As of December, 1.4 per cent of all vehicles sold in Canada were electric, according to FleetCarma, a technology consultant firm, and there were just under 50,000 of the vehicles on Canada’s roads.
However, the number of electric vehicles sold last year increased 68 per cent compared to the year before. The 18,560 plug-in vehicles that drivers bought in 2017 represented a fivefold increase compared to sales in 2013.
The GM-made Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid, was the hottest seller in Canada last year, followed by the Chevrolet Bolt, a battery electric vehicle. GM announced this week it would discontinue the Volt as the company prioritizes battery electric vehicles. (Source: Toronto Star)