Canada vs. Electric Cars: Round 2


Last week, Canada’s Globe and Mail published an article without running it through fact-check, which is usually a reliable indicator that the article was either;

  • A:  bought and paid for, or
  • B:  hastily thrown together by someone who has no idea what s/he is talking about.

I like to pretend there isn’t all that much evil in the world, so – in this case – I’m willing to give the Globe and Mail the benefit of the doubt and go with “b:  clueless.”

Am I being too harsh on the Canadians?  Again?

Maybe … but I’m being as diplomatic as I can when referring to the author of the article in question, who uses claims like “The Nissan Leaf is the only market-ready all-electric car” as the basis for comments like “That’s why I shake my head when I hear US President Barack Obama, in a push for clean energy, calling for one million electric cars to be on American roads by 2015. Again I say: Fat chance.” (emphasis mine)

Ignoring the fact that the writer’s conclusion seems to ignore the actual data, the claim that Nissan’s Leaf is the only ready-to-wear electric being sold underscores a severe lack of industry knowledge that seems to include an alarming ignorance of Google search results for electric cars – which returned Tesla Motors as the no. 1 result when I typed in “electric cars”.

That car up there in the photo?  Tesla Roadster.  Fully electric.  Been on sale for years.

There are other EVs out there, of course (as even the most casual Gas 2.0 readers are surely aware) but it should be troubling that someone is out there claiming they don’t exist, then turning around and using false claims as a means to deliver a decidedly anti-EV message. (Never mind the dozens of EV’s destined to hit showrooms in the next couple of years. -Ed.)

The article also includes the results from “a huge opinion survey conducted by Deloitte“, which showed “approximately two-thirds of respondents said they would not pay any more for an EV than a gas-powered car. Fat chance they’d get one for the same price!”  That “fat chance” comment?  Our friendly author, again, injecting their “informed” opinion.

Our guide through this brave new world of EV antagonism goes on, telling us that “when you get into the details of the survey, 75 per cent of Canadians don’t want an electric car unless it recharges in less than four hours and goes at least 480 kilometres on a single charge. It doesn’t matter that more than 80 per cent of Canadians drive less than 80 kilometres a day and it doesn’t matter that both the charge and the required range are technically impossible today.” (again, emphasis mine)

Really?  What about an EV that could be re-charged in minutes, on something like the Better Place Battery-swap rig that’s been in the works since 2009?  That’s not only technically possible today, that’s been done … 2 years ago!  Is that battery-swap oversight just another example of the author’s carelessness, or is there some serious agenda-pushing going on here?

Maybe it’s both.  Maybe it’s neither.  Maybe it’s just pandering to Alberta’s heavy-duty pickup market.  In any case, it is certainly an article filled with oversight after oversight, and controversial opinion after controversial opinion.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments.

SourceThe Globe and Mail.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Yeah You’re being too hard on Canadians again but what the hell..We have strong broad shoulders. LOL

    I’ve noticed a dizzying lack of understanding between our two wonderful cultures. Lets enjoy it.

    • As my PEI/Winnipeg relatives often tell me: I spend too much time in the States! LOL!!

  • Sounds like there’s plenty of misinformation on both sides here. BetterPlace is not a functional operating entity and likely never will be. If not already obsolete, the concept, which depends upon a whole host of unlikely events and conditions is so
    impractical and unrealistic that we can dismiss it altogether. We already have several electrics that can recharge fairly rapidly – the upcoming Tesla Model s can recharge 300 miles worth of battery power in less than an hour. True, not many can afford the $79K price tag, but others at the low end will also offer pretty fast recharges. Unfortunately, those low end vehicles will sport pretty useless sub 100 mile ranges (the Leaf cannot go beyond 75 miles according to the EPA). And the fact that we usually drive less than 100 miles per day doesn’t mean very much, unless you’re one of the minority who can afford the high price for an electric as basicaly a neighborhood or commuter

    • Agree on the misinformation, but disagree that it’s on both sides. Better Place is far from obsolete and unlikely – indeed, it’s being backed by Renault and was implemented in its second country (Denmark, after Israel) as recently as last week:

      As far as the sub-100 mile cars not meaning “very much, unless you’re one of the minority who can afford the high price for an electric as basicaly (sic) a neighborhood or commuter car”, what else (besides driving around your neighborhood and commuting) do you spend time doing in your car? Sure, the few days that you go more than 100 miles will be an inconvenience, but for the vast sweeping majority of people who spend maybe-MAAAAYBE all but 5-10 days a year (out of 365) not going more than 100 miles? Perfect, and far Far FAR from useless.

      I can’t believe I even had to address that.

  • I haven’t read the original article, but it has nothing to do with being Canadian per say. Whether in Canada, the USA or any country in the western world, there are anti-EVs as there are pro-EVs. This article is from the former. Period.

    You shouldn’t make it about the country of origin, or talk about diplomacy. It’s not about the country the article came from that is of any relevance, but about the group of people (regardless of nationality) that push these kinds of false ideas and agendas. They have no borders…


    • I (respectfully) disagree here, about the country being relevant – but I’ll grant that you’re right about everything else. See, Canada especially has a lot to gain if oil dependence stays high and the price of oil goes up, in the form of the Alberta oil sands. More so than you might think. The fact that the country’s economy and sphere of political influence depend directly on high demand for expensive oil (making the oil sands economically viable), combined with the fact that Canada doesn’t have a fully free press ( mix together to leave a sort of greasy, doubt-riddled film on anything EV/alt-fuel/environmentally related to come out of the country’s papers.

      Just sayin’.

      • Canada hasn’t been associated with dirty oil all it’s life. I have to agree with the oil sand connection you make, but only because of Alberta and the current conservative government, a bit like the Bush-sleeping-with-the-oil-company days in the USA. Not that all other parties here in Canada are squeaky clean, I admit, but they are certainly more environmentally inclined than the current Alberta-oil-sands-kissing-Harper-conservatives.

        By the way, Canada has a lot more going for it than only the oil sands and, to be honest, a lot of people could be doing without this high dollar which is hurting our exports… all this because the world (and not just us) is addicted to oil and money.

        Just sayin’…

  • I value your blog and your writers opinion but being Canadian and working in the Alberta Oil Sands please don’t alienate us from the global effort to make electric cars eventually a reality because of a silly news article a large media organization wrote. It truly does not speak for very many Canadians.

    If I can say anything about what Canadians expect out of there cars it is A LOT… Vehicles need to be able to perform in extremely cold (-40 Celsius) and very hot (+40 Celsius) not to mention be able to tackle the many road challenges people face in the winter. Canadians are also subject to traveling very long distances if you want to go anywhere. The nearest major city from Edmonton, Alberta is Calgary and that is 300 KM away. I know the average person does not drive that distance daily but people from Calgary sure love to go to the mountains (125 KM) for the day and hit the hills then come back at the end of the day every now and then.

    Finally I would just like to say if we want to see electric cars take off there has to be the same infrastructure as gas stations put in place for battery swapping. I don’t know who will pay for it or how it will happen but without it I think the challenges of starting the electric car revolution once again will be very challenging.

    Keep up the great work and please be friendly to us Canadians…we like reading your blog.

    • @ Andrew

      You bring up some very valid points, especially regarding the cold and how it affects electric batteries.

      However, that doesn’t mean that local news sources should be allowed to spread disinformation regarding electric vehicles, and I think that was the real gist of Jo’s piece.

  • Yeah that’s the Globe for you. Honestly, the pick-up truck mentality is just about everywhere here in Canada. The biggest issue is that Canada isn’t very urban except near the border (49th parallel). I’m just glad to see you’re on the ball. You can email the Globe and they’ll likely post a whole article if you write it. Our cable news groups do an awful job of reporting too. That’s why I mostly read blogs and science findings.

  • Getting a little tired of the Canada bashing…

    Yes, the article is poorly researched and slanted. Just like in the US, there are uninformed morons in Canada.

    To say that high oil prices benefit all of Canada is patently false. Only Alberta, and to some extent Saskatchewan and Newfoundland/Labrador have any oil industry to speak of. Canada is a big place, and many of the other provinces are actually harmed by high oil prices. The Canadian “petro” dollar is now trading above parity with the US dollar. This harms all of the manufacturing and exporting activity in all the other provinces and territories, especially Ontario and Quebec.

    Before you slam another journalist for not doing his research, maybe you should turn the criticism inward and apply the same standard to yourself…just sayin’…

    • @ Dean

      As South Park so gracefully sang…



      • Christopher:

        Classic! I was wondering when someone was going to invoke that…

    • Wait, so you’re saying that increased revenue (and, therefor, increased taxes paid into the Canadian government’s coffers and increased foreign investment into the currency) does NOT benefit Canada? Sure, maybe the strong Loon harms manufacturing and exports, but it dramatically increases purchasing power as well, so that’s hardly a slam-dunk argument you’re making.

      • Like I was saying, do your research, quit being an amateur blogger by oversimplifying a complex issue and aspire to be a real journalist by digging a little deeper:

        “In times of high oil prices this means that the majority of Canada’s population suffers, while the West benefits. The National Energy Policy of the early 1980s attempted to force Alberta to sell low priced oil to eastern Canada. This policy proved deeply divisive, and quickly lost its importance as oil prices collapsed in the mid-1980s. One of the most controversial sections of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement of 1988 was a promise that Canada would never charge the United States more for energy than fellow Canadians.”

  • EGM

    I’m Canadian, even Albertan, but I’d NEVER read the GLOBE & MAIL or CALGARY HERALD for info on EVs.
    Let’s face it, the northern prairies are a tough sell for EVs, but southern BC, Ontario and Quebec (largest markets) are prime candidates. BC and Quebec are blessed with abundant Hydro-electric power and Ontario is on a blitz to get off tainted Alberta oil by instigating it’s “GREEN ENERGY ACT” that provides extensive Feed-In-Tariffs for clean energy. Ontario also provides rebates for EV purchase.
    My enthusiasm for EVs is rare for an Albertan and I moved to BC for 7 years to get away from the “oil” mentality, but moved back to work on WIND FARMS in southern Alberta (there is some hope for us). However, the oil influence is pervasive, causing many delays and hurdles for Wind Farm developers. I’m now working on hydrokinetic turbines for South America…

    • This is WAY cool, and if you’d like to share a bit more about what you’re doing with the wind farms and your thoughts on everything you mentioned here I would *LOVE* to hear it. You can email me anytime:

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