A proposed bill at the National Assembly that would see car dealerships punished for not selling enough electric and hybrid cars has some salesmen scratching their heads.

The bill, which is being put forth by Environment Minister David Heurtel, would require car dealers to have more than 15 per cent of their sales comprised of the green vehicles.

Quotas for electric vehicles would begin in 2018, and the provincial government has told dealerships they will face fines if they do not meet their quota. 

At the Excel Honda dealership, General Sales Manager Bruno D’Aliesio said they only sell one or two hybrids a year, which he attributes to the low price of gas and higher cost of the cars.

“There’s a lot more people right now interested in saving money than saving the environment,” he said.

Silver Star Mercedes Vice President Rob Girouard said he was surprised to hear of the bill. He said his shop doesn’t currently have a large selection of electric cars but by next year, he expects 20 models of hybrid and electric vehicles.

“To put fines and now to make it a punishment-type situation is completely wrong,” he said. “We should be encouraging, we should be figuring out new ways to sell these cars rather than these mandates.”

Quebec already has several subsidies for greener cars and 500 charging stations for electric vehicles. It also allows electric car drivers to use the carpool lane. Still, there are just 8,500 electric cars registered in the province.

The plan aims to encourage the population to purchase electric vehicles and lower greenhouse emissions by 75,000 tonnes per year.

The goal is 40,000 more on the road every year, a number that Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association President Mark Nantais called unrealistic.

“This is going to take some time and forcing the supply is no guarantee there will be demand,” he said.

The World Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition which will be held in Montreal between June 19 and 22, 2016.


With files from Canadian Press