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The 2017 annual Vancouver International Auto Show may have wrapped up for another year, but the global auto show momentum continued in China, where I was invited to represent the New Car Dealers Association of British Columbia at the Shanghai Auto Show, and to sum things up, it was electrifying!

Similar to the interest here in British Columbia, electric vehicles have taken centre stage in Asia, with many international automakers trying to get a toehold in the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) market.

Not surprisingly, the Chinese auto market is the largest in the world and the auto manufacturers at the event brought their most significant displays. The Shanghai Auto Show is also one of the world’s largest auto shows, hosting more than 1,000 auto manufacturers with 1,400 car displays covering more than 3 Million square feet!

Similar to what we saw at the Vancouver Show a few weeks ago, there is fierce competition between brands to develop new vehicles that rely partially or completely on clean energy and that competition is good news for consumers globally. Which is why it was no surprise that many automakers unveiled new all-electric production and concept cars at the Shanghai Auto Show this year!

To compare between the two countries, Fleetcarma released for 2016 that there were 11,000 new EV’s sold last year in 2016. The total number of EV’s on the roads in Canada is 30,000. China, on the other hand, experienced almost 45,000 new EV sales in December alone, according to figures from Clean Technica, and the country has the most aggressive EV goals in the world.

In British Columbia though, EV’s are rising in popularity and the growing consumer interest is certainly encouraging.

Last year at the 2016 Vancouver Auto Show, a total of 984 British Columbians signed up to test drive EVs. This year, we saw a 27 per cent increase in interested consumers, with a total of 1,246 people signing up for test drives.

Also similar to the Vancouver Auto Show, the Shanghai Auto Show has the same hassle-free, non-sales environment, as many automakers take the opportunity to showcase their greatest and latest innovations.

It’s also interesting to note how these new innovations reflect the ever-changing auto industry and how they cater to consumer trends.

Cluing into China’s large appetite for SUV’s for example, both Jaguar and Audi were among the brands that debuted all-electric SUV’s. French brand, PSA Group, and Czech brand, Skoda, also unveiled new electric SUV’s to appeal to consumers.

From the consumer’s end, the Chinese government also offers subsidies for the purchase of new electric cars in order to entice prospective buyers.

In British Columbia as well, there are programs in place for residents thinking about purchasing an EV as their next vehicle.

The CEVforBC™ program is available to provincial residents and allows qualifying drivers to save up to $5,000 towards the purchase of a new EV and up to $6,000 for the purchase of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

The BC SCRAP-IT™ program is an early vehicle retirement program that also provides various incentives for British Columbians looking to replace their higher polluting vehicles with cleaner transportation.

As more and more of the world’s population move from rural areas into big cities, clean energy vehicles are becoming increasingly important. It’s making them appealing to the consumer that’s the hard part, but as we saw in Shanghai with all the new electric SUV’s, a balance can be struck. I’m electrified about what’s to come down the road.

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