The big tanks

Admit that, when you hear Dan Bigras’ masculine, serious and friendly voice bragging about the merits of the mastodon Ram, part of you nods: here is a good guy, champion of good causes, who invites us to be robust. We would only really be in the car on board this powerful pick-up. Especially since he praises the excellent credit conditions. Karine Vanasse, she is dressed for a chic evening when she invites us to ride another car of imposing size, the Nissan Rogue, essential, it seems, to go either to the ballet or to apples.

The Institut de la statistique du Québec reports that sales records are broken every year – an increase of 170% in ten years. So much so that today, one in three Quebec adults owns one of these devices. It is understandable if these pubs specifically targeted rural Quebec, where you have to lug your cord of wood every day, deliver your cattle, get out of a mud field or brave a row road in February that the plow only visits. times per week. But these ads are broadcast nationally, so they reach an 80% urban population that has, at best, only an extremely occasional need for these heavy machines. In Montreal, ten years ago, there was one SUV for every ten cars. Today is six for ten. The problem ? These cars emit 30% more GHGs per kilometer than others. Pierre-Olivier Pineau, from HEC, is steep. By making these purchases, he says, “Quebecers have invested billions in the problem in 2020, as they have done more and more in recent years.”

SUVs, a Quebec value?

The purchase of one of these vehicles, called sport utility vehicles, is it on the way to becoming a value in Quebec? In any case, it becomes a subject of political discussion. During her congress, the liberal leader, Dominique Anglade, wanted to introduce a surcharge on the purchase of these oil devourers. It was the only “biting” measure of his green turn. It was attacked by the delegates from the regions, many of whom had undoubtedly come aboard these cars. A sly exchange took place at the same time between the leader of the Conservative Party, Éric Duhaime, still in search of a good controversy, and the solidarity member Émilise Lessard-Therrien. Passed by a heavy truck in snowy conditions in her Abitibi, the member took the ravine with her vehicle. As she posted a photo of her setbacks on social networks to denounce the poor road and cell link conditions, everyone was able to identify the model of their vehicle. Saying that he is happy that the member has emerged unscathed, Mr. Duhaime noted “that the solidarity member is leading a pick-up… ”Mr. Duhaime’s party is obviously opposed to the ecological measures advocated by QS and its deputy, recently returned from COP26. Note however that Mme Lessard-Therrien is a farmer.

PQ chief ecologist Sylvain Gaudreault, who lives in Saguenay and drives a 2017 electric Chevrolet Bolt, is fighting in Quebec to have SUV advertisements banned, even if it means Mr. Bigras and Vanasse. He even wants to go after the advertising of all gasoline vehicles. Which raises two questions.

First of all, does advertising really influence consumers? If the answer was no, you would never have heard of, other than word-of-mouth, Coca-Cola, Cheez Whiz or 6/49. A recent report by Équiterre puts the rate of car buyers at 40% who say they are influenced by advertising, television or print, at the time of purchase. And tells us that automakers devote 79% of their ads to SUVs.

Isn’t all this superfluous, then, since within 10 or 15 years, all new vehicles sold, including the F-150, will necessarily be electric? It still gives nearly two million more of these overweight tanks time to land on our roads. “These vehicles are a guarantee of the sale of petroleum products for years to come,” says Pineau. They make it practically illusory to achieve a 40% reduction in the sale of petroleum products by 2030. ”And, even in the case of electric cars, the carbon footprint of their manufacture is twice as large as for normal cars, not to mention that their weight contributes more to the wear and tear of our roads.

The ecological / pick-up paradox

In short, if we believe – and we must believe it – in the climate emergency, the ban on advertising for gasoline-powered cars is as logical as yesterday’s for tobacco products, for what we could have done. call the pulmonary emergency. It would still be necessary to force manufacturers to supply Quebec with electric vehicles, as other states do through legislation.

There remains the basic paradox: there is a perfect correlation between the increase in ecological awareness of Quebecers and their enthusiasm for SUVs. We are tempted to conclude that they did not understand anything. But if it was the opposite. The reflex of new SUV buyers is perhaps perfectly in line with their awareness of the ecological crisis. Almost every evening, on TV, they see the victims of climate change fleeing from floods, fires, landslides. To choose, in these conditions, between the fragile subcompact or the indestructible tank, how not to opt, as the ecological president Joe Biden did the other week, to drive a Hummer, even electric?

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