26 Mar 2019

Incentives A Force For EV Adoption: BC Car Dealers

EVs not a fad according to British Columbia car dealers
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British Columbia is a land of many things; soaring mountains, vast forests, dramatic coastlines, modern cities and recently - electric vehicles.

The Canadian province has one of the highest rate of EV adoption in North America, and looking around the 99th Vancouver Auto Show, it's not hard to see why.

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There were 38 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the floor of the show, and another 13 outside waiting to be test-driven as part of the provincial government's incentive program.

President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC, Blair Qualey said that for BC, which was an environmentally conscious part of the world anyway, incentives to bring down costs for consumers was another force for uptake.

“Like anywhere else, its an educational process. People need to understand (that EVs are) just like any other vehicles, it just has a different engine,” he said.

“The incentives have really been important to make sure that people make the choice.”

He added that governments flipping between offering incentives and taking them away had a visible impact on EV uptake, as seen in BC and in other parts of Canada where the number of electric vehicles rolling out of car yards dropped significantly when buyers had to fork out the number of the price tag without any sweeteners.

Qualey said that incentives were one part of a three-pronged approach to encouraging EV uptake, along with infrastructure investment and education.

He said that for BC, its high uptake of EV was “all about carrots, it's not about sticks.”

One of those carrots on display was the (very wordy) Clean Energy Vehicle Point-of-Sale Purchase Incentives Program for BC, which was running the 13-car test drive program at the show over the week.

Available for attendees to test drive were all the usual suspects such as the Tesla Model 3, the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - though there were also some models Australians might find a little harder to get behind the wheel of, namely the Honda Clarity which is a hydrogen fuel-cell car, the Chevrolet Bolt (not the Volt) which is General Motors all-electric offering, and the Chrysler Pacifica - FCA’s hybrid people mover.

Leading up to the Auto Show the government of BC had announced additional funding for electric vehicle programs, which offer as much as C$5,000 per vehicle in incentives.

Qualey said that the incentives - along with government programs encouraging infrastructure - meant that Vancouver and BC overall was a leader in EV adoption - although the fact that Vancouver itself is a luxury market helps.

“Its very much a luxury market, so brands like Tesla and BMW and others that have some electric vehicles have been very successful here.”

Speaking about what would be required for EVs to permeate all levels of the auto market instead of just smaller cars, Qualey said that buyers needed bigger cars.

 

Sedans are no longer what everybody is buying - everybody wants a sport utility or a crossover utility.”

The Audi E-Tron, the Jaguar I-Pace and the Mitsubishi PHEV were all good steps in the right direction towards broader market adoption, said Qualey.

“We need larger vehicles that are electrified. ...everywhere sedans are falling out of favour, everyone is wanting a larger vehicle.”

2019’s haul of electric and hybrid vehicles was just the start of what was to come, said Qualey, who opined that EV “is not a fad - this is reality.”

“If you listen and see the stories coming out of Europe, and coming out of all the major vehicle manufacturers - (carmakers) that don't have something now, are talking to others that do have the technology and talking about partnerships.

“In the next five years it's going to be a whole different picture. If we stand here in five years from now, there’s going to be a lot of SUVs and crossovers and pickups available with battery power.”

The 99th Vancouver Auto Show ran from March 19 to 24, with 400 vehicles on display for car enthusiasts and consumers alike.

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