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Canada’s accelerated timetable for EVs brings spotlight on key bill

Canada’s accelerated timeline to fully embrace electric vehicles (EVs) presents a threat to some auto suppliers and auto mechanics, with the latter pinning hopes on a key legislation to adapt to the changing needs of the industry.

Last month, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government set out a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks to be zero-emission by 2035, from an earlier goal of 2040. Recent investments by General Motors and Ford Motor in their Canadian units to primarily boost EVs give the parts industry some hope in the immediate future, Reuters reports.

“Where there’s risk is on the parts manufacturers that make parts for internal combustion components like engines and transmissions,” said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufactures’ Association.

Volpe noted these parts will disappear in future years, and there are concerns the companies won’t be capable of adapting, if they even remain the suppliers after new competition enters the market.

Auto parts are Canada’s fifth-biggest export industry, employing roughly 71,400 workers as of January, according to official data. Volpe is still confident many established parts makers will be preferred, given their track record.

Industry groups say the switch to EVs is a bigger threat to auto mechanics, who may struggle unless the ‘right to repair’ bill is passed in Canada.

That bill was reintroduced in the Parliament in February, after it was killed in the House of Commons in August 2021 ahead of the federal election. The bill would force big automakers to share the parts, software and training used to repair products.

Failure to pass the bill could result in the closure of many mechanics down the line and substantial job losses in the sector, said Jean-Francois Champagne, president of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, which represents automotive after-market supply and service chains.

Roughly 109,816 Canadians are employed in the automotive repair and maintenance industry, according to a 2022 report by Statistics Canada.

A move to EVs that are loaded with technology that allows greater automation and over-the-air software updates could lead to the loss of as many as 53,707 jobs by 2051 in the worst case scenario, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

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