‘Rolling spy vans’? Canada weighs possible security threat of Chinese EVs

Canada is weighing whether to slap tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles to stop cheap EVs from flooding the market. But Ottawa – which has pumped billions of dollars worth of subsidies into the Canadian EV industry – says its concerns are not only economic.

“We’re also looking at the national security aspect of this; the security aspect including cybersecurity, when it comes to Chinese exports of high technology items, like EVs,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday.

She made the remarks at an auto plant in Vaughan, Ont., north of Toronto, while announcing a 30-day consultation process on what she called Beijing’s “unfair trade practices.”

Canada is considering whether to follow the U.S.’s lead and increase tariffs on Chinese EVs from 25 per cent to 100 per cent.

The European Union is mulling similar measures but has agreed to hold trade talks with the Chinese government.

In addition to hiking levies, Washington also launched a security review last February to investigate Chinese-made smart cars.

“It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out how a foreign adversary like China, with access to this sort of information at scale, could pose a serious risk to our national security and the privacy of U.S. citizens,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said at the time.

As China tries to position itself as a global leader in EVs, cybersecurity experts have warned Beijing could use these vehicles to collect huge amounts of sensitive data on North American drivers.“These cars, particularly the ones that are equipped with self-driving capabilities or smart features, have microphones and cameras. They are rolling spy vans,” said David Shipley, the CEO of Beauceron Security, a New Brunswick-based cybersecurity firm.

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