Slow transition to clean energy vehicles
There is no denying that advanced technology vehicles, including electric vehicles (EVs) are the wave of the future but they are also an important factor today, as each of us consider what we can do on a personal level for the environment. Individuals and organizations have varied ideas and opinions about how best to increase the adoption rate of electric vehicles in this province – and B.C.’s New Car Dealers Association (NCDA) shares the desire to encourage greater EV adoption as quickly as possible.
Ideally, advanced technology vehicles such as electrics would be a solution for every individual and family, but that simply isn’t the reality in British Columbia at this time.
B.C. is a resource-based province in which geography and weather in some regions mean an electric vehicle is simply not a viable option for every family or business. In the Interior and North in particular, a robust charging network is required before we are going to see greater EV adoption. In a province in which affordability is an issue, the cost of newer model EVs is not necessarily within the reach of every individual or family. Furthermore, electric vehicles are merely one route to reducing greenhouse gases – at this point in time. Newer model gasoline powered vehicles also play an important role in reductions, as manufacturers unveil new internal combustion models that are much more fuel efficient with each passing year.
B.C. currently leads the country in EV adoption and in the past three and half years, the CEVforBC Program has approved more than 8,400 incentives for clean energy vehicle purchases for BC residents and businesses. Our Association has created competition between dealerships across the province to determine who can reach the highest level of sales of clean energy vehicles across all brands. However, we can all agree more needs to be done to move as many consumers to electric vehicles as possible.
Some would suggest that auto manufacturers should be forced to sell an arbitrary minimum number of electric vehicles in our market as one solution, but we believe such an approach would be counter-productive and not possible. Even with ambitious increases in EV purchases by B.C. consumers, the only way to meet regulated quotas would be to restrict the sale of new non-EV vehicles to the province in order avoid penalties. As a result, many British Columbians would be prevented from buying a vehicle that meets their family’s needs or that of their business.
It would also mean additional costs to manufacturers who would have no choice but to add those costs across all their new vehicle lineups.
New Car Dealers advocate an approach through which members continue to educate consumers, there is ongoing planning and investment in infrastructure to support greater electric vehicle usage and opportunities, while maintaining vehicle point of sale purchase incentives – so the realities that are obstacles today, aren’t obstacles in the future.
Blair Qualey is president and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. bqua[email protected]cardealers.ca.
An electric vehicle charging sign is pictured in Squamish, B.C., in 2016.