Quebec approves new law to boost sales of zero emission vehicles

MONTREAL, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Quebec lawmakers on Wednesday approved new zero emission vehicle legislation that obliges automakers selling cars in the Canadian province to offer their customers a minimum number of hybrid, rechargeable and electric models.

Quebec, the first Canadian province to pass such legislation, joins 10 U.S. states including California that have similar laws designed to grow the supply and sales of plug-in electric vehicles at a time when North American consumer demand is growing for gasoline-powered SUVs and light trucks.

“We just approved one of the toughest laws in North America,” said Quebec Environment Minister David Heurtel in a statement.

Under the new law, 3.5 percent of the total number of autos sold or leased by carmakers in Quebec have to be zero emissions vehicles starting in 2018, with that proportion to rise to 15.5 percent in 2020, explained Emilie Simard, a spokeswoman for Heurtel. The sales would work through a tradable credit system, she explained.

The system could be favorable to electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc which would be able to sell its excess credits to other automakers. In California, Tesla has benefited from some automakers’ decisions to buy more credits instead of build more cars and has reported more than $600 million in environmental credit sales.

Tesla could not immediately be reached for comment.

In addition to the law, Quebec already offers buyers an C$8,000 credit to purchase electric cars as part of a plan to bring 100,000 zero emissions vehicles on the road by 2020. (Reporting By Allison Lampert; Editing by Alistair Bell)