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Driving Electric Vehicle Sales

Driving Electric Vehicle Sales

January 18, 2019

It may be the early days of 2019, but there is every reason to believe the transition to greater electric vehicle (EV) adoption by British Columbians will only escalate this year.

For the last decade the adoption of electric vehicles has been a process that has been gradual but, in the recent years the adoption of EVs has picked up considerable steam. Consumers no longer need to be led into a discussion about the virtues of clean energy vehicles. They want and are demanding that auto manufacturers address their increasing appetite for greener modes of transportation – and auto manufacturers are responding.

A broader selection of EV models is making the decision more attractive for consumers. The top EV vehicle sales models in 2018 included the Tesla Model-3, Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Outlander, Chevrolet Bolt, Toyota Prius Prime and Chevrolet Volt.

In the year ahead, in addition to established models, consumers can expect to see even greater options, including the Hyundai Kona Electric, which is already being billed as one of the most promising electric cars of 2019; the Audi E-Tron Quattro SUV; the Kia Niro EV; and Mini, will also be reintroducing its fully-fledged mini-electric. Also of great interest, is Volkswagen’s plan to launch the long-awaited first electric vehicle from its eponymous brand, the Golf-size ID Hatchback – but the 2019 model will only be sold in Europe. And, Ford is working on a 300-mile electric SUV for 2020 – which will be of great interest because it will be the automaker’s first dedicated electric model.

For many consumers, the decision to make the transition to an EV is a practical one. The current level of fuel prices is a motivating factor for some, while for others, the move to cleaner technology is the result of becoming more environmentally conscious. And for many, incentive programs have also helped steer them in this direction.

The SCRAP-IT® Program provides an incentive to remove an internal combustion engine vehicle from our roads and replace it with a clean energy vehicle. Since its inception in 1996, that Program has successfully removed more than 43,000 super-polluting vehicles from BC roads. And of course, there is the CEVforBC Program, which New Car Dealers administer on behalf of Government, and offers B.C. residents up to $5,000 dollars for the purchase or lease of an eligible vehicle.

While total 2018 year-end totals for BC have not yet been tabulated, well more than 6,000 CEVforBC incentives were paid out during the last calendar year – more than three times the amount in 2017 (during which there were approximately 1,800 incentives processed). It’s also important to note that during the third quarter of 2018, the sale of electric vehicles represented 15.4 per cent of all new car sales in the province.

The Province announced $20 million in funding for the CEVforBC Program last fall and that will help fuel the public’s appetite for EVs. However, as electric vehicle sales grow and more and more products appear on the road, drivers need charging spots that will keep pace with demand. To its credit, the Province has made a commitment to expand the size of the current fast-charging network – but there remains a lot of work to do, particularly in the Interior and the North, where the lack of this infrastructure is a clear impediment to EV adoption.

BC’s New Car Dealers continue to work hard to ensure consumers or potential consumers are armed with the best and most up to date information in deciding to make a new vehicle purchase. When it comes to the purchase of electric or any other vehicles, the support and encouragement dealers provide can go a long way in fuelling the growth of clean energy vehicle sales, and in doing so, reducing emissions.

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

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