Canada’s auto industry fears blowback over government’s tough emissions stance

The excerpredted article was written By Rob Bostelaar | Automotive Canada

OTTAWA — Canada’s alliance with California in a battle over greenhouse-gas emissions could erase hard-won trade protections, deter investment and drive up prices for car buyers, auto industry officials warn.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in June that Canada will align with California in a plan to maintain stringent fuel-economy standards even if U.S. federal regulators dial back the limits scheduled for model-year 2021-2025 vehicles.

The agreement contains no commitments beyond a pledge to work together on regulations to cut greenhouse-gas production and promote clean vehicles.

“In our view it’s premature to be saying this is the road we’re going to go down without understanding all the consequences and costs of going down that road,” said David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada.

“It would have been our preference that Canada work with the U.S. and California to come up with a single, integrated system of standards.”

Automakers now build to a single set of standards adopted by the United States and California in 2012. A U.S.-California split could force them to produce separate vehicles for two markets, or build vehicles to the higher standard.

The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), representing the Detroit Three, said any dual-market system could undermine the still-to-be ratified treaty that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Why did we just spend the last two years renegotiating an agreement that underpins North America as a trade bloc, that preserves the three country approach, preserves our integrated industry and supply chains, and is designed to remove technical barriers to trade and to align regulations ultimately because of the efficiencies?” said CVMA president Mark Nantais.

Canada has long matched the United States on safety and emissions regulations. But McKenna’s announcement signals that Canada won’t follow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommendations to freeze tailpipe standards at 2020 levels through 2026 instead of requiring yearly improvements to reach a fleet average of 54.5 mpg in government testing, or about 36 mpg in on-road driving.

Carmakers had lobbied for lower yearly increases to the 54.5 mpg target — though not a freeze — arguing that the Obama-era federal regulations they signed on to in 2012 didn’t anticipate softening fuel prices and rising consumer demand for larger vehicles.

It also inserts Canada into a political confrontation typical of the President Trump era. California is leading a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia in a federal court suit to overturn the EPA plan, while the Trump administration is seeking to revoke the right of California — long a driver of U.S. emissions policy — and other states to set their own limits.

IS TOUGHER BETTER? 

McKenna said aligning with California’s mileage targets and zero-emission vehicle program could spur investment in clean transportation in Canada. The two jurisdictions represented four million of the 19 million new light vehicles sold in Canada and the United States in 2018.

“We can build the vehicles of the future here at home, create good jobs, and remain competitive, all the while reducing pollution and helping Canadians save hundreds of dollars a year at the pump,” McKenna said in a statement.

Industry groups say a more likely result would be reduced product offerings and higher prices as consumers compete for fewer available vehicles.

“Any movement away from a harmonized approach will hinder choice and increase costs for Canadian consumers,” warned the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA), representing 3,200 franchised new -car and truck dealerships across the country.

CADA didn’t estimate how much prices could rise, but spokesman Huw Williams suggested some shoppers could end up keeping their old cars instead of moving to cleaner, less thirsty vehicles.

“That’s a consumer cost as well, and an economic cost,” Williams said.

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, said that Canadian assembly plants now are chiefly devoted to crossovers and larger vehicles. McKenna’s contention that the MOU would encourage automakers to change the type of vehicles they build in Canada is unrealistic, he said.

“You would put companies into a difficult position of not selling locally what they make locally, increasing their cost per unit and decreasing the competitiveness of local manufacturing,” he said. “And you would de facto put a cloud over the Canadian automotive value proposition.”

Still, Volpe believes the federal Liberals took a “prudent step” with the non-binding agreement, which conveys opposition to lower limits on emissions but doesn’t lock Canada in. He said government officials, who are conducting their own midterm review of the fuel-economy standards, heeded industry advice in devising Canada’s strategy.

FEAR OF TWO STANDARDS 

If automakers sought relief from the Obama-era reductions — which could still remain as the effective standard if enough states side with California — they’re more concerned at the prospect of building to two markets even as they invest hundreds of millions in electric vehicles and other alternatives to meet longer-term emissions goals.

Adams and Nantais said their groups have joined their U.S. counterparts in pressing for a single standard acceptable to California, Canada and U.S. federal regulators.

“We want a reasonable standard or regulation that’s achievable, recognizes the dynamic in the marketplace, recognizes fuel costs, recognizes technology costs,” said Nantais.

Any resolution, however, could be far off.

“I think the drama on this is far from over, and that’s both political and litigious,” said Volpe. “It is still very early days.”

BC Residents Are Less Worried Than The Rest of Canada About Their Insurance

VANCOUVER, July 15, 2019 /CNW/ – British Columbians are very knowledgeable when it comes to car insurance, but they still have concerns that keep them up at night. According to a national survey commissioned by belairdirect, 34% of British Columbians are concerned with the price of their car insurance policy – more than any other region in Canada. British Columbians who have car insurance are also most concerned with understanding their policy and what they are covered for (22%), if their policy is still in effect if they lend their car to someone (20%), and if they are covered if their car is stolen (18%).

“Car insurance in British Columbia is unique, which means British Columbians understand what they want from their car insurance,” said Jeremy Green, Vice President, Sales & Operations Western Canada, belairdirect. “British Columbian drivers consider understanding insurance to be tedious and want premiums that actually reflect their driving habits and fit their needs.  belairdirect offers a new, personalized way to look at optional insurance, and our goal is to make it as simple as possible.”

Options beyond mandatory insurance
The survey found a quarter (25%) of British Columbians with car insurance know the difference between the mandatory public auto coverage, and the type of optional insurance offered, including by belairdirect.

“belairdirect offers British Columbians personalized, optional car insurance choices including collision, liability and special discounts,” said Green. “Our innovative automerit program can also reward good driving behaviour with a personalized discount of up to 25% on the optional auto insurance for BC residents.”

Coming out on top
British Columbians are savvy when it comes to insurance, but they still want more. The survey found British Columbians with auto and/or home insurance are more likely than other regions of Canada to:

  • Know car insurance varies by province (93% of respondents in BC vs. 79% rest of Canada).
  • Have home insurance for peace of mind (67% of respondents in BC vs. 63% rest of Canada).
  • Find it difficult to understand their home insurance policy (61% of respondents in BC vs. 52% rest of Canada).
  • Have car insurance to follow the law (67% of respondents in BC vs. 61% rest of Canada).
  • Strongly agree that they feel like they pay too much for their home insurance (30% of respondents in BC vs. 24% rest of Canada) and car insurance (61% of respondents in BC vs. 38% rest of Canada).

“Insurance is too important to be complicated and we are committed to simplifying that experience and help educate consumers. In fact, our licensed insurance agents will work with customers in British Columbia any day to ensure they have the optional coverage they should have to meet their needs, including the benefits of bundling both home and auto insurance for even more savings,” said Green.

About belairdirect
Founded in Quebec in 1955, belairdirect provides car and home insurance products directly to consumers. It currently employs more than 1,600 people. The company offers a simple but complete solution, allowing customers to communicate with an agent by phone, online or in person through its network of branches. belairdirect was the first property and casualty insurer in North America to sell car insurance products online (www.belairdirect.com), attesting to the company’s innovative character. belairdirect is a subsidiary of Intact Financial Corporation, the largest provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada and a leading provider of specialty insurance in North America (TSX : IFCwww.intactfc.com). belairdirect is a proud partner of Breakfast Club of Canada.

SOURCE belairdirect

Why today’s safer cars aren’t driving down insurance costs yet

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Electronic Monitoring for Risky Drivers

Our current system of trying to change driver behaviour largely consists of traffic tickets, vehicle impoundment and driver’s licence suspensions. They all rely on traffic policing to find and deal with those who don’t follow the rules. How efficient is that?

When I worked on South Okanagan Highway Patrol, we were responsible for Highway 3 from the Manning Park works yard to the Rock Creek Canyon Bridge, Highway 5A from Princeton to the Okanagan Connector, Highway 3A from Keremeos to Kaleden and Highway 97 from the border at Osoyoos to Peachland. A typical dayshift consisted of 3 constables when we were all working.

What were a misbehaving driver’s chances of being caught? Not that great.

ICBC has run one trial with driver telematics and are in the process of running a second. The first consisted of volunteers from their Customer Advisory Panel and the current one will be conducted with volunteers who are in the Graduated Licensing Program (GLP).

One result of the first trial was announced by ICBC’s CEO:

“From our first telematics pilot earlier this year, ICBC has developed a telematics strategy to identify how the technology can be used to improve road safety and drive behavioural change among higher-risk drivers in B.C.,” said Nicolas Jimenez, ICBC’s president and CEO. “We heard from those pilot participants that most believed the use of telematics would make the roads safer for everyone. This is our next step in a thoughtful examination of telematics technology and how it might help to keep these drivers safer.”

Currently, there is one form of electronic monitoring in effect for drivers who have shown that they pose a significant risk to themselves and other road users. Drivers who have received alcohol-related driving prohibitions require an ignition interlock to prove that they are sober enough to drive.

RoadSafetyBC says that the interlock program evaluations have consistently found up to a 90% reduction in repeat drinking and driving while the device is installed.

One of the more common issues on our highways is drivers who drive at excessive speeds, that is more than 40 km/h above the posted speed limit. If they are found and dealt with by the police, a heavy fine and a vehicle impound is imposed. A GLP driver will also be subject to a driving prohibition.

Speed limit adherence is a relatively simple function for electronic monitoring. GPS provides both location and speed and the speed can be confirmed by the vehicle’s own data network. There are apps available right now that will allow you to monitor your ability to drive at or below the posted speed limit.

Perhaps the requirement for a year of speed monitoring following an excessive speeding incident would result in a 90% reduction in speeding by that driver.

RoadSafetyBC also places high risk drivers on probation under the Driver Improvement Program.

In addition to speed, telematics can monitor hard braking and acceleration as well as abrupt steering. Consistently recorded, these behaviours are indicators of high risk driving practices.

Would electronic monitoring also result in a 90% reduction in high risk driving behaviour while a driver is on probation?

How long will it be before ICBC uses telematics to set insurance rates? It’s probably not that far in the future.

Consistent safe driving will already save you up to 25% on the cost of optional insurance with Belairdirect here in B.C. All that you need to do is use their Automerit app to show that you deserve the rate reduction.

Whether you choose to use electronic monitoring of your driving for personal benefit or have it imposed on you by the government when you show that you don’t play well with others we could all be safer because of it.

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Hail damage the worst in Alberta compared to all other Canadian provinces: AMA

The excerpted article was written b

Experts warn to brace for summer storms in Alberta, which sees more insured losses than all the other provinces combined.

AMA insurance experts have compiled numbers from insurance providers across the province and said 51 percent of all storm-related damage in Canada since 2010 has occurred in Alberta.

Vishnu Singh with AMA said people need to protect their vehicles and their property when a storm hits.

“You want to make sure you go underground or find a parkade,” Singh said. “The kinds of expenses to a vehicle is, on average, $5,000 for a hail claim for vehicles.”

The growing cost of damages is leaving a big dent in the bottom line for car dealerships. For many, it was no longer feasible to leave their inventory so vulnerable. Many have invested in protective shields.

T&T Honda in Calgary’s northeast spent just over $1 million to install six tents.

A car lot in Calgary has invested $500,000 for three tents to act as protective shields from hail.

The dealership’s general manager, Navroz Jessani, said they were left with no choice.

“We had to do something to mitigate that risk as well as keep insured,” Jessani said. “We got hit with a massive hailstorm in August 2012, and there was a significant amount of damage and getting insurance after that point became more and more difficult for us.

AMA released more statistics that reveal 66 percent of Canada’s major hail storms happen in Alberta — the most severe to date was in August 2010, causing nearly $400 million in damages.

Ways to prevent summer storm damage include parking your vehicle in a garage or under a covered structure and tying down lawn furniture. The most important thing, according to the AMA, is to know when severe weather is on the way, advising people to get weather alerts on their phones.

Edited for ILSTV

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