The 78th Montreal Auto Show is showcasing more electric cars than ever before

MONTREAL — After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, car enthusiasts were able to wander the aisles of the Palais des Congrès and admire the 220 models on display during the 2023 Montreal International Auto Show (SIAM).

The slogan of the 78th motor show?

“Electrification,” SIAM CEO Luis Pereira said in an interview.

“We have a total of 67 electric or plug-in hybrid models, which is unheard of in Quebec. (…) Manufacturers know that the industry is in transition towards electrification; Quebec is a big market for them and so they answered the call,” he added.

All 17 car brands present at SIAM, including Lotus, Subaru, Nissan, Hyundai and new Vietnamese manufacturer VinFast, offer at least one electric model.

“Toyota has a total of 24 vehicles in its cabin, and 17 of them are electric or hybrid vehicles. (…) This is the future and we are going in this direction,” said Mr. Pereira.

If the number of electric cars available at the event has more than doubled since 2020, the situation outside the walls of the Palais des Congrès is quite different. While the zero-emission conversion frenzy has been growing in Quebec for several years, global supply chain issues are currently limiting access to new cars.

New car sales in Canada fell more than 11% in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year. Dealer waiting lists are always long, and depending on the rarity of the model, you can wait anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to get your hands on a vehicle.

However, there is no shortage of interest: according to a 2022 Maru Canada survey, more than 60% of Quebecers plan to turn to zero-emission vehicles for their next car purchase.

“The whole industry is following this curve from an environmental point of view. (…) Each of the vehicles must meet customer demand and that’s why we have so many options,” said Bertrand Godin, a former racing driver and spokesman for the Montreal Auto Show.

This year, SIAM is also offering test drives for 11 electric vehicles in partnership with CAA-Quebec. As these types of vehicles are often unavailable at dealerships, the event offers visitors the opportunity to learn about some of the zero-emission models as well as test drive them.

“It’s a show for enthusiasts as well as people looking for a vehicle, so we have something for everyone (…) It really makes the choice clear when it comes time to buy a car. car,” Mr. Godin said.

From January 20 to 29, visitors will be able to sit in the control panels of the Toyota Bz4X XLE, the new Nissan ARIYA Evolve+ and Cadillac LYRIQ, as well as the Kia Niro EV and others.

The deadline is approaching

Although stocks of electric vehicles remain low, the Quebec government aims to limit sales of new fossil fuel vehicles as early as 2035.

As of July 31, 2022, there were more than 150,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the province’s roads, and government projections put that number at 1.6 million in 2030 — if Quebecers can afford them.

“I think manufacturing is back in service and the problem is manpower rather than the creativity of manufacturers,” said a SIAM spokesperson. All this is in the process of relaunching, hopefully the announced times will be shorter than expected.

However, experts agree that the situation will continue at least until next year. People will have to be patient if they want to get their hands on a new electric car, especially since Quebec is not the focus of automakers in the global market.

According to Electric Mobility Canada, the provincial government’s sales standard for zero-emission vehicles is not ambitious enough and will not significantly affect the supply of electric vehicles for at least five years.

China and Europe, the two destinations favored by automakers due to higher environmental regulations and standards, currently buy 80% of electric vehicles produced globally.

This article was produced with financial support from Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.

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