Dealerships crave Electric Vehicles to meet increasing demand
December 8, 2017  Dave Battagello

[video  flash

A Chevy Bolt EV at a charging station at the Windsor International Aquatic
and Training Centre. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star
Bob Aylesworth plugs in his Chevy Bolt EV at Windsor International Aquatic
and Training Centre. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

Electric vehicles gain in popularity, but hard to find.

Bob Aylesworth had his mind made up years ago: When the time was right he
was going to buy a battery-only, electric vehicle.

That time came for the retired St. Clair College professor at the beginning
of this year when he made the purchase of a new 2017 Chevy Bolt.

The problem was he made his $47,000 buy without even seeing the car — then
he had to wait three months before it arrived at the local dealership.

“I am a strong environmental-oriented person,” Aylesworth said. “When I
bought it in mid-January they didn’t even have the brochures at that time. I
got it strictly based on online reviews.

“It was a little bit scary. I didn’t know anyone else with an electric car.”

Today, Aylesworth can breathe a huge sigh of relief because he “just loves”
his new Bolt, which, after a government rebate of $14,000, cost him $33,000

“It’s just a really smooth, quiet vehicle,” he said. “It gets a lot of
positive attention and I’m not burning gas.”

The Windsor resident has read about the slow sales of electric vehicles, but
he believes the reason for it has nothing to do with the quality of the
cars, but their availability.

“People walk in to buy a car and there is not one available, so they buy
something else,” he said. “People are not buying them because it’s so hard
to find them.”

Aylesworth purchased his Bolt at Gus Revenberg Chevrolet Buick where he was
one of only a handful locally who was lucky enough to purchase the vehicle.

General Motors will stop producing the 2017 Bolt next week and start
producing the 2018 version in January, according to Mickey Pierre, general
sales manager at Revenberg.

But dealers have been told it will be a shortened production year for the
electric vehicle ending in the summer. That will keep availability on this
side of the border tight, he said.

Dealerships are allocated a certain number of Bolts for the year based on
their sales volumes, Pierre said.

Buyers will be forced to continue buying the Bolt sight unseen and waiting
anywhere from three to six months to receive their car, he said.

Dealerships in the Windsor area combined will be lucky to have a dozen or so
Bolts available for sale.

Pierre agreed with Aylesworth that sales would jump if dealerships had them
stocked in larger numbers.

“We could sell 20 to 25 a year if we could get the numbers (in stock) of
that car,” Pierre said.

While the Bolt [EV] will be hard to come by, the Chevy Volt [pih], which
runs primarily on battery, but also fuel, is more readily available with two
currently sitting in the showroom at the dealership, he said.

“You will be able to find them in stock at most dealers,” Pierre said.

Volts can be test driven and then — if special ordered — will arrive in
eight to 10 weeks, he said.

General Motors manufactures both vehicles in Michigan, so each are more
widely available across the border.

An issue for local dealerships has been receiving timely reimbursement for
the $14,000 rebates being handed out to EV buyers.

Local MPP Percy Hatfield (NDP — Windsor Tecumseh) just over a week ago
sounded the alarm bell in Queen’s Park on the issue since some the
province’s larger dealerships are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The money has since “started trickling in,” Hatfield said on Friday.

“The problem was they didn’t have the bureaucracy in place to process (the
rebates),” Hatfield said. “The good news is more of these vehicles are being
sold and we are getting them on the road. People understand it makes sense
for the environment.”

As of October, the province has provided incentives through the Electric
Vehicle Incentive Program (EVIP) to support the purchase of more than 10,000
electric vehicles representing a total value of over $84 million, said Bob
Nichols, spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation.

That includes incentives provided to both individuals and dealerships which
breaks down to about 50 per cent each, he said.

Nichols indicated the ministry is not able to “accurately calculate the
total incentive value waiting for approval.”

“Some dealerships operate independently while others are part of a broader
network of multiple dealerships which can result in a larger number of
applications from one applicant waiting to be processed,” he said.

MTO is currently working to improve program administration by assigning
additional resources and by working with dealers to develop a more
streamlined process to approve applications, Nichols said.

“We are making progress,” he said. “In fact, over the last few weeks MTO has
approved payment for over 2,000 dealer applications.”
[© 2017 Postmedia Network]

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