13% of all new light vehicle sales in British Columbia in 2021 were zero-emissions vehicles – the highest on the continent on a per capita basis.
The province rolled new electric cars to the front steps of the legislature on Wednesday, boasting that British Columbia now leads all North American jurisdictions in zero-emission vehicle sales.
George Heymann, Minister for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, said 13% of all new light vehicle sales in British Columbia in 2021 were zero-emissions vehicles – the continent’s highest on a per capita basis – and first-quarter results this year show. It rose to 17%.
“We are doubling in two short years at a rate [EV] Lift up.” Heyman said.
Despite supply chain issues that have delayed delivery of new electric vehicles, Heymann said, “We want to speed up that uptake.”
Rapid adoption of electric vehicles is being observed in the United States, Heyman said last week in meetings with counterparts in Washington, Oregon and California, Heyman pointed to highlighting BC’s leadership — “up to California.”
Despite the pandemic and supply chain issues, just over 18,000 discount transactions were processed in 2021 — an even higher amount, said Blair Qualley, chief executive of the New Car Dealers Association of British Columbia, which also operates the BC clean car discount program in the province. Ratio in 10 years.
Late last year, the Victoria EV Association said manufacturers were struggling to keep up with demand and that it was taking anywhere from three months to a year to get a new EV, even though used EVs were available.
The Clean BC discount program offers discounts of up to $8,000 on 52 makes and models of electric vehicles.
Qualey said these incentives were the main reason for the increases in sales, but he also noted the commitment of regional and local governments to provide more access to public charging stations and raise awareness of the benefits of zero-emission vehicle ownership.
“The cycle we’ve drawn creates a path to continued success,” Qualey said. “It’s good for government, good for business, good for the environment.”
The province said it has set up about 3,000 charging stations by the end of 2021 and plans to have more than 10,000 by 2030.
Bruce Ralston, Secretary of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, said the province will also continue to invest in electric vehicle maintenance training programs. British Columbia Institute of Technology launched its first training program in 2019 to provide Red Seal technicians with the skills they need to work on electric vehicles. In 2021, the program was expanded to Okanagan College, New Caledonia College, and Camuson College.
“24 technicians have completed the Electric Vehicle Technology and Service course at Camosun College, and another 24 technicians are scheduled to complete by the end of the year,” said Patrick Jones, Camuson Instructor and Program Leader.
Julian Salle, who owns Motorize Electric Vehicles and operates many sales of new and used electric vehicles in Sidney and View Royal, said the popularity of electric vehicles is on the rise. He sells between 20 and 30 vehicles a month, saying operating costs are often the magnet that attracts new buyers, especially with gas prices soaring to a record high.
“Two cents per kilometer is better than 50 cents per kilometre,” he said.
Sell said first-time buyers are on average a more mature demographic because the cost of electric vehicles is rising — “easily about 10,000 more than last year,” Sell said, noting inflation and inventory challenges as major causes.
“Twenty and thirty-year-olds can’t buy a $50,000 car,” he said.
Seal said governments should invest in training, mining the materials that make electric vehicle systems and bringing parts manufacturing to Canada — and leave charging stations to the private sector. He said service stations such as Petro Canada are already developing a coast-to-coast shipping strategy and that others will follow demand.
He said the electric vehicle sector relies on components from all over the world, which is delaying the manufacture and delivery of electric vehicles.
The British Columbia New Car Dealer Association presented the Green Star Dealer Awards to honor the Vancouver Island area’s new auto dealers who have recorded the most zero-emission vehicle sales, across all brands — although no numbers were provided.
The winners of the CleanBC Go Electric Green Star Dealer award are the Victoria Hyundai, which won the battery electric vehicle sales award, and Jim Pattison’s Toyota Victoria, the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle sales award winner.