City hall reporter Bob Bruton says he wants to help the environment, but also says electric cars must be affordable to consumers

I have a question for Honda Canada, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

How much?

How much will Honda’s new hybrid (gas/electricity) CRVs and electric cars (Civics?) cost?

Trudeau and Ford were both at Honda’s Alliston automobile manufacturing plant April 25 for the big announcement. And make no mistake; it’s a big deal.

Honda is investing approximately $15 billion to create Canada’s first comprehensive electric vehicle supply chain. This investment includes $5 billion in federal and provincial funding, which comes, in part, from you and me.

The Alliston facility will grow from its current three plants to four as it retools. And by 2028, Honda will be operating an electric vehicle assembly plant — the first of its kind for the Japanese automaker.

Alliston will be home to a new stand-alone battery manufacturing plant, along with a cathode active material and precursor processing plant, through a joint venture partnership with POSCO Future M Co. and a separator plant through a joint venture partnership with Asahi Kasei Corporation.

Honda’s Alliston workforce will also grow by about 1,000 people from its current level of 4,200 employees.

Just more than a year ago, Trudeau and Ford were on hand when Honda announced a $1.38-billion, six-year upgrade to its Alliston manufacturing plants. The governments of Canada and Ontario would each contribute $131.6 million to the upgrades, part of Honda’s plans to make battery electric vehicles represent 100 per cent of its North American sales by 2040. It will become North America’s lead plant for the new 2023 CR-V hybrid crossover.

Honda has the capacity to produce more than 400,000 vehicles and 190,000 engines annually, including the Honda Civic and CR-V models for the Canadian and North America markets, as well as for export. Approximately 100,000 Canadian-built Civics and CR-Vs are sold annually in Canada. The Civic has been Canada’s best-selling passenger car for a quarter century.

And full disclosure, I’m on my second Honda Civic.

It’s a great car, made in Alliston, runs like a dream. Change the oil every 5,000 clicks and it should run forever, my mechanic says. I wish it had a CD player, but that’s just the old-school in me and I can work around that (digital music files from CD to computer, then from computer to USB stick, plug it into the car’s USB portal and listen away). 

Yes, my Civic’s new enough to be a bit of a computer on wheels, but that’s the norm now.

It does, however, run on gasoline, which means I am increasing the Earth’s greenhouse gases, leading to a warmer planet, melting polar ice caps, wildfires in our forests, droughts and all the other stuff global warming brings.

That’s partly my fault and has been for about 45 years.

Alternatives?

Well, I could sell my Civic and stop driving, except that I need a vehicle to do this job and pay my bills. So that doesn’t work.

Or I could buy a hybrid vehicle, or a strictly electric one. Admittedly, I really haven’t really looked into this.

I know someone who bought a new electric car, and put a charger in their garage. It cost more than $60,000.

Or more than three times what I paid for my used Civic. More than three times. That’s kind of scared me off.

Sure, there are used electric cars and hybrids for sale, for less than $60,000. And not everyone needs a charger in their garage.

But I can just hear my bank manager…

So what can I do? Drive less, especially in Barrie. Make every car trip have three or four stops, instead of one or two. This would also save gas, which is way expensive again.

Keep my car tuned up, so it runs efficiently and doesn’t pollute — as much.

And have another look at all the news stories that came out with Honda’s big announcement (which I didn’t cover), to see if any of them give me the information I always seek.

What’s the change?

What do new Honda CR-Vs and Civics cost now, and what will they cost once they go electric.

That’s what I want to know.

Maybe I should call my car salesman.

Bob Bruton covers city council for BarrieToday. He has questions for Honda Canada about electric vehicle prices, but doesn’t expect any answers, despite being a customer.


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