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Zero-emission rules mean fewer electric car choices for most Canadians: Don Pittis

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Canadians trying to buy the electric vehicle of their choice in many parts of the country are finding it almost impossible — and a provincial strategy intended to get more green cars onto dealers’ lots may actually make the problem worse.

The strategy — called a zero-emission vehicle standard, or “ZEV mandate” — has already been imposed in Quebec.

There are now widespread rumours that British Columbia could announce a similar scheme within days as part of a promise to help balance out the greenhouse gas deficit produced by the province’s planned $40-billion liquefied natural gas plant in Kitimat.

That sucking sound

Unless the federal government moves ahead with a promised national ZEV mandate of its own quickly — something critics think is unlikely — green car advocates fear the provincial schemes will merely suck electric vehicles out of other parts of the Canadian market in order to beef up sales in B.C. and Quebec — without increasing the total national supply.

That doesn’t mean ZEV mandates aren’t potent policy tools within the jurisdictions that impose them, says Dan Woynillowicz, policy director with Clean Energy Canada, a think-tank at Simon Fraser University.

“California has been the pioneer with a zero-emission vehicle mandate,” said Woynillowicz. “It’s been very successful, and as a result more than a dozen other states, plus Quebec here in Canada, have adopted similar policies.”

California has been a leader in the ZEV market, and you can find electric cars available there that are never even seen in Canada. (Robert Galbraith/Reuters)

Meant to influence the market without distorting it too much, ZEV rules differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. But in principle, ZEV standards have a single intent.

“The standard seeks to spur the supply of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and low-emission vehicles (LEVs) to afford … consumers access to greater numbers and a broader range of plug-in motor vehicles, which are the cleanest and the most technically advanced on the market,” reads a Quebec government website.

Despite a handy explanatory leaflet, ordinary car-buyers may find the complexities of the rules heavy. 

But in essence, ZEV systems are put in place as an attempt to counterbalance market forces that have made selling internal combustion engine (ICE) cars more profitable for automakers than selling electrics. ​

Please don’t buy our cars

The late Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne once notoriously asked customers not to buy the company’s battery-powered Fiat 500e because the business lost money on every one sold, although he reversed that view shortly before his death.

While electrics are cheaper for consumers over the life of the car, automakers have been able to make more money selling cars manufactured in old plants using established technology. Dealer repair shops make more from combustion-engine vehicle maintenance since, by comparison, electrics have so few moving parts.

A Nissan Leaf and a Chevy Bolt are shown at Toronto’s Electric Vehicle Discovery Centre, run by non-profit Plug’n Drive. A national ZEV program could attract more electric cars to Canada. (Don Pittis/CBC)

What ZEV mandates do is force carmakers to increase the percentage of ZEVs and LEVs sold year after year. And if they fail to meet those rising quotas, it forces them to pay what the rules describe as a “royalty.”

That means the most profitable thing car companies can do in the short term is to hold steady the total supply of Canadian electric cars — and merely sell more of them in ZEV jurisdictions. In other words, in Quebec and in B.C.

“Most electric vehicles that are earmarked for the Canadian market are likely be going to be going to those two provinces,” said Woynillowicz.

The federal government has considered a national plan, with a Transport Canada announcement last year going so far as to promise to develop a Canada-wide strategy to increase the number of ZEVs on Canadian roads “by 2018.”

But according to insiders, an advisory group that included carmakers and environmentalists became deadlocked and the group’s report has not been released.

Global shortage

Industry representatives make it clear they don’t like pressure from the sudden imposition of ZEV rules.

David Adams, the president of the industry group Global Automakers of Canada, called the possibility of a ZEV scheme in B.C. “disconcerting,” partly because there just aren’t enough cars to go around.

“The supply issue is a global issue that is going to be with us for two or three more years,” he said in a recent interview.

Ontario electric car expert Cara Clairman has a certain sympathy for an industry that has been surprised and overwhelmed by the demand for battery-powered vehicles.

“To be honest, it’s just so much cheaper,” said Clairman, the CEO of Plug’n Drive, a non-profit organization sponsored by the electric and automotive industries that promotes electric cars. 

The Toronto resident has driven her own Chevy Bolt to Montreal, Ottawa and Windsor.

Mitsubishi brought in plenty of its best-selling Outlander PHEV SUV. But other companies may need a nudge from a ZEV program to provide enough electric cars. (Mitsubishi Canada)

Clairman said she has noticed more cars being shipped to Quebec since the province adopted of a ZEV mandate, but she also notes that places like California have electric cars she’s never seen available in Canada.

“Those jurisdictions with a ZEV mandate tend to get the supply when there’s a limited number,” she said.

People shopping for an electric outside Quebec have found some cars — including the Volkswagen e-Golf and any of the Ford electrics — hard to come by. But some car companies — including Mitsubishi, whose Outlander plug-in-hybrid is billed as the world’s best-selling electric SUV — planned ahead and currently has a plentiful supply on dealer lots.

Companies that lead the way on producing enough electrics will win in the long run, Clairman said. But for others, it’s possible the ZEV mandate is necessary to twist a few arms.

“I think, for quite awhile, most of the automakers didn’t want it because they said, ‘We’ll make sure the supply is there.’ But if the supply isn’t there, I think there becomes more and more public pressure to have a ZEV mandate.”

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis


The ‘ZEV mandate’ versus the ‘CAFE standard’

Those with a passing familiarity with the rules to make cars less polluting may be confused between the ZEV mandate and the existing CAFE standard, which stands for “corporate average fuel economy,” that U.S. President Donald Trump has moved to abolish. While the two sets of rules overlap in encouraging greater fuel efficiency, some experts, including those advising the State of California, say the ZEV does not replace the need for the CAFE. While the ZEV mandate gradually increases the percentage of zero and low-emission cars on the road, the CAFE standard requires greater efficiency in the entire fleet. “When we talk about a zero-emission mandate requiring one in three cars sold 12 years from now be electric, that means that even 12 years from now, two out of three being sold will have a gasoline engine,” said Dan Woynillowicz. If that occurred, the majority of cars sold could include the highest polluting vehicles — so long as automakers find them profitable. In theory, said Cara Clairman, after many more years, you will have enough electric cars on the road that the effect would be the same. “But I don’t think California would ever go for that,” she said.

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Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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