By Blair Qualey
Earth Day is a great opportunity to recognize the important role zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) are playing in reducing British Columbia’s carbon footprint.
B.C. motorists have been adopting zero-emission vehicles as quickly as they can be manufactured. Despite significant supply chain issues over the last few years, the provincial government reports the number of registered ZEVs has skyrocketed from 5,000 in 2016 to more than 100,000 today.
To meet this surge in ZEV demand, automakers are building and retrofitting manufacturing North American facilities, including those in Canada. For example, Volkswagen is building its first battery plant in St. Thomas, Ont. and Ford is transforming its Oakville, Ont. assembly complex into a ZEV production hub.
Most major automakers have pledged that ZEVs will make up between 40 and 50 per cent of their sales by 2030. So, why is there such a strong demand for ZEVs now?
One reason is because new ZEVs can travel far on a full charge. Over the past 12 years, the average range of new ZEVs has risen from 115 kilometres to 350 km. Charging and battery technology has also advanced to the point where you can add hundreds of kilometres to a ZEVs range in as little as 30 minutes.
Another reason is there are so many different types of ZEVs hitting the market. The first ZEVs that rolled onto dealership over 10 years ago were all small and compact vehicle types. But if you walk through those same lots now or browse new vehicle online, you’ll also see many more types of vehicles, including electric SUVs, hatchbacks, sedans, minivans and even pickup trucks.
At the same time, the price gap between EVs and their gas counterparts is shrinking due in large part to government rebate incentives such as the CleanBC Go Electric Rebate, which the New Car Dealers Association (NCDA) proudly administers on behalf of the province.
Similarly, ZEV owners save thousands of dollars in fuel costs. These savings keep growing too as the price at the pump ticks upwards.
The number of ZEVs on BC roads is expected to accelerate further as supply chain issues subside and consumers continue to see ZEVs as a great alternative to gas vehicles. This is good news as ZEV mandate targets by the federal and provincial governments grow closer, requiring 100 per cent of all new light vehicle sales be ZEVs by 2035.
Looking ahead, we’re also reminded that there are still big potholes on this EV journey.
While 3,800 charging stations have been installed on B.C. roads to date, so many more will be needed, especially in rural parts of the province. Equally as challenging, upgrades must be made to our power grid so it can handle this increase in energy demand.
Given all of this, we will continue to advocate for ongoing incentives and policy changes that will help ensure ongoing adoption of ZEVs.
On Earth Day, we should take time to celebrate our accomplishments during this EV transition and acknowledge how we can make owning ZEVs more practical and affordable. B.C. we will be able to breathe easier, not just because there’s cleaner air around us, but because we know we’re doing our part to create a healthier, happier planet.
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org