Lack of charg­ing sta­tions a speed bump for elec­tric ve­hi­cles

The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion - Mario Canseco is pres­i­dent of Re­search Co. MARIO CANSECO

As gas prices con­tinue to climb in Bri­tish Columbia, some drivers in the province are tak­ing ad­van­tage of ex­ist­ing pro­grams to ac­quire a “zero emis­sion” ve­hi­cle. By com­bin­ing provin­cial and fed­eral re­bates, Bri­tish Columbians can be el­i­gi­ble for up to $16,000 to as­sist in the pur­chase an elec­tric car.

This month, Re­search Co. asked Bri­tish Columbians about the provin­cial gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to pass leg­is­la­tion to en­sure that, by the year 2040, all light-duty cars and trucks sold in the province will be zero emis­sion, as well as their views on be­com­ing own­ers of an elec­tric ve­hi­cle and what – if any­thing – is stop­ping them from tak­ing this step.

Across the province, seven in 10 res­i­dents (70 per cent) agree with the course of ac­tion de­signed by the provin­cial gov­ern­ment. Sup­port for the new reg­u­la­tions is high­est among women (74 per cent), res­i­dents aged 18 to 34 (also 74 per cent) and Metro Van­cou­verites (also 74 per cent).

Bri­tish Columbians who voted for the BC Green Party in the 2017 provin­cial elec­tion are over­whelm­ingly in favour of the gov­ern­ment’s plan (87 per cent), along with 76 per cent of those who sup­ported the BC NDP and 60 per cent of those who cast a bal­lot for the BC Lib­er­als.

The re­sults are a bit more con­tentious when res­i­dents are asked to look into the fu­ture. Prac­ti­cally half of Bri­tish Columbians (49 per cent) say the goal that has been es­tab­lished by the provin­cial gov­ern­ment is “def­i­nitely” or “prob­a­bly” achiev­able. This leaves 42 per cent of res­i­dents who do not

fore­see all light-duty cars and trucks sold in the province be­ing zero emis­sion by 2040.

Skep­ti­cism to­wards the fea­si­bil­ity of the gov­ern­ment’s pledge is high­est among men (46 per cent), res­i­dents aged 55 and over (49 per cent) and those who live in the South­ern In­te­rior (61 per cent).

A theme de­vel­ops quickly when look­ing at these num­bers. The core con­stituen­cies of the gov­ern­ing BC NDP (women, young vot­ers, Metro Van­cou­verites) are more likely to en­dorse the pro­posal and to think it will come to fruition. Con­versely, groups that have tra­di­tion­ally sup­ported the BC Lib­er­als in this cen­tury (men, older vot­ers, res­i­dents of the South­ern In­te­rior) are not par­tic­u­larly fond of the idea or its vi­a­bil­ity.

Set­ting aside the po­lit­i­cal di­vide, the views of drivers sug­gest that change may be in the air. More than half of Bri­tish Columbians who rely on their own ve­hi­cle for trans­porta­tion (51 per cent) say the next car they ac­quire for them­selves or their house­hold is “very likely” or “moder­ately likely” to be elec­tric.

In this fu­ture pur­chase con­sid­er­a­tion ques­tion, men who drive are more likely to be ready for a switch than their fe­male coun­ter­parts (53 per cent to 48 per cent). In ad­di­tion, Those in the 18-to34 age group are sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to think of their next ve­hi­cle as a plug-in (59 per cent) than those 35 to 54 (52 per cent) or 55 and over (43 per cent). Metro Vancouver, which has tack­led end­less dis­cus­sions about fuel taxes, leads all re­gions with 55 per cent of drivers say­ing they would even­tu­ally trade in their cur­rent car for an elec­tric one.

In other ar­eas of the province, the sit­u­a­tion is more com­plex. Only 40 per cent of drivers in the South­ern In­te­rior are “likely” to pur­chase an elec­tric car next. The pro­por­tion in North­ern B.C. is 37 per cent, with no re­spon­dents choos­ing the “very likely” op­tion.

When drivers were asked the main pre­oc­cu­pa­tion that would make them less likely to switch to elec­tric, 24 per cent men­tion price, 24 per cent are fear­ful of be­com­ing stranded if they can­not find a charg­ing sta­tion and 23 per cent say they do not have enough places to charge the ve­hi­cle in the ar­eas where they usu­ally drive.

The per­cep­tion that elec­tric ve­hi­cles are too ex­pen­sive com­pared to non-elec­tric ones does not go through any sub­stan­tial fluc­tu­a­tions across the province. But out­side of Lower Main­land, the is­sue that seems to stop drivers from go­ing elec­tric is in­fra­struc­ture.

While only 23 per cent of drivers in B.C. say their main hin­drance in ac­quir­ing an elec­tric ve­hi­cle is not hav­ing enough charg­ing spots, the pro­por­tion jumps to 35 per cebt in the South­ern In­te­rior and 45 per cent in the North.

Most Bri­tish Columbians back mak­ing all light-duty cars and trucks sold in Bri­tish Columbia zero emis­sion by 2040. How­ever, to en­sure this ini­tia­tive is fully em­braced, it will be im­per­a­tive to in­form the public about ex­ist­ing and fu­ture in­fra­struc­ture re­lated to elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

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