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A recent survey by KPMG suggests that 70 per cent of Canadians plan on purchasing a new vehicle in the next decade, with 28 per cent of those say they would prefer a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV). However, 33 per cent of overall respondents say a combination of factors are making them reluctant to buy a clean energy vehicle – including cost, range anxiety, and limited supply.

The issue of cost will always be a consideration for a new car buyer. Despite there being a growing assortment of models and price points for clean energy vehicles, 80 per cent of those who responded to the national survey say it’s not just the sticker price, but rather rising borrowing costs that are now putting ZEV’s out of their price range.

The study provides a national perspective and while some of the findings certainly apply to BC residents, we are fortunate in this province to have the CleanBC Go Electric Passenger Vehicle Rebate Program which the NCDA administers on behalf of the province. The program has demonstrated that if consumers are provided incentives to influence their spending habits, they will make use of them – particularly if there is a positive environmental outcome.

British Columbia continues to lead the country in ZEV adoption, with one in five light vehicles registered in the third quarter of 2022 (19.9 per cent) being a clean energy vehicle. Today, there are more than 85,000 zero emission vehicles registered in BC, the vast majority of those purchased with the benefit of the Clean BC Go Electric Passenger Vehicle Rebate Program.

In 2022, a total of 12,077 rebate transactions occurred through the program at a time when overall vehicle sales were down 13%, largely because of significant supply chain issues.

In BC, consumers have also been supported by policy and funding decisions that are aimed at addressing the issue of range anxiety. Ultimately, we need to get to a point where access to charging stations is available where we all live, work, and socialize. Progress is being made but clearly a lot of work remains. While the Lower Mainland and southern Vancouver Island have improved access to charging infrastructure, there’s a limited supply in many rural parts of BC.

The CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 (released in October 2021) proposes to complete B.C.’s Electric Highway by 2024 and reach a target of 10,000 public EV charging stations in B.C. by 2030. As of January 2023, there are over 3,800 public charging stations in B.C., including over 850 fast charging stations.

Challenges associated with supply chain issues, especially with microchips, have plagued our sector and consumers for the past two years. It’s been a frustrating period, but our hope is that these challenges will ease over the next several months and the sector will return to some level closer to normal, as we move into 2024.

Clearly, the road to ZEV adoption is an incremental process, but the BC approach is proving to have a dramatic impact – and is fueling the transition to a greener, more sustainable economy.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected]