A electric vehicle charging at the University of Victoria. (Photo Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions)

Free public charging available for commercial electric vehicles

No policies in place to separate pleasure versus business vehicles, but fees coming for all

A new electric vehicle business will be using public charging stations to fuel its fleet, at least for now.

On Dec. 1, Kelowna-based Current Taxi will unveil a band of Tesla cars as an all-electric taxi company. Current Taxi is permitted to have 15 vehicles on the road, and will start with six vehicles comprised of three Tesla Model 3s, two of the Model S and one Model X.

“We believe the transportation industry needs to take some responsibility in reducing the environmental footprint,” said founder Dale Conway.

“It also provides a luxury experience… riding in an electric vehicle isn’t something everyone can do and when they do their eyes just light up.”

READ MORE: All electric Tesla cab fleet rolls onto Victoria streets this Sunday

Costs behind an electric fleet are less than regular cars, Conway said, which means fares can remain the same as other taxis.

“Taxis aren’t cheap,” he said. “There’s no need for us to raise the fares.”

One cost-saving measure for the business as it starts up will be the use of one of the region’s many public charging stations. According to pluginbc.ca, there are approximately 70 such stations in the Capital Region.

In Victoria proper there are a total of 13 charging stations, located in the second level of downtown parkades.

More than 60 electric vehicle charging stations are located across Greater Victoria. (Screenshot/ pluginBC.ca)

Conway says this is a temporary solution until a proper charging station is installed.

“We’re already working on a program with Tesla to get our own charging stations in Victoria because when we get beyond 15 cars we don’t want to become a hindrance on existing infrastructure,” he said.

“We need to focus on becoming self-sustainable.”

Other businesses, however, have the potential of continuing to use taxpayer-funded energy to run their business, such as delivery services and any future ride-hailing services.

ALSO READ: Drivers are ‘ICE-ing’ electric car charging spots in Greater Victoria

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said that presently there are no policies in place for personal versus business vehicles, but that all vehicles will need to face the same barriers.

“In Victoria they will need to go into a parkade and pay for parking just like everyone else,” she said.

Within the parkades there is a three-hour maximum at the charging stations; three hours of parking will cost the driver $4, which depending on the model of the vehicle, the charging station and vehicle use could keep cars charged for days. Comparatively, the most recent GasBuddy.com statistics say that a litre of gasoline sits around $1.33.

On Nov. 14 city council decided it would begin charging fees for the use of the plug-in stations.

“Collecting fees through a ‘user pay’ system for EV [electric vehicle] charging is necessary to promote vehicle turnover and ensure access for other users,” said Ryan Shotton, citizen engagement coordinator at the City of Victoria in an email.

A bylaw will be introduced in 2020 to formalize the new EV fees, starting at $1 per hour, which may be increased in spots experiencing higher demand.

The City also plans on installing six EVe charging stations along Broad Street in 2020, as well as plans for DC fast chargers in the city, depending on external funding.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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