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2014 Nissan LEAF: Nissan sold just 470 LEAF battery-powered cars last year. (Nissan)
2014 Nissan LEAF: Nissan sold just 470 LEAF battery-powered cars last year. (Nissan)

Driving It Home

Why won’t Canadians buy 'green' cars? Add to ...

I suppose it’s possible to believe that the research on climate change is a vast left-wing conspiracy aimed at bringing down capitalism. Maybe 97 per cent of the research literature on our warming planet could be the product of a sinister Marxist/Stalinist plot.

But have the conspiracy theorists taken time to skim the three latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? They are stuffed with convincing science suggesting that humans burning fossil fuels, combined with deforestation, are primarily to blame for global warming.

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We’re nearing the point where the earth’s temperature will have risen more than 2.0 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. “Beyond that increase, the world could face truly alarming consequences,” note The New York Times in its review of the IPCC reports.

But I am not here to argue the science of climate change. Instead, consider what Canada’s new vehicle buyers are doing despite the science.

Sales of thirsty light trucks are up 6.3 per cent this year, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants; car sales are down 6.2 per cent. Light trucks to date account for 60 per cent of all the new vehicles sold. Meantime, sales of some of the most fuel-efficient cars are down year-on-year – Hyundai Elantra, 8.5 per cent; Mazda3, 6.4 per cent; Volkswagen Jetta, 12.0 per cent; Ford Focus, 17.6 per cent.

Sales of the super-clean and eminently reliable Toyota Prius were down 36.5 per cent last year. Toyota also sold a grand total of 212 Prius Plug-in Hybrids in 2013, and Nissan sold just 470 LEAF battery cars. Overall sales of all-electric cars in 2013 amounted to nothing more than a blip.

Actions in the marketplace, then, do not reflect an immediate concern about human-made climate change. When will they, if ever?

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