EV advocates, critics charged up over B.C. goal of phasing out gas vehicles
by 2040

 Bolt EV

When Travis McKeown considered getting rid of his 2007 Honda Civic recently,
the high price of gas and the abundance of government rebates made the idea
of switching to an electric vehicle too good to pass up.

The 32-year-old IT worker did the math on his daily commute from Surrey to
Richmond, the travel range needed for his wife and two young children, the
cost of premium gas for his Civic SI, the fact he'd get an HOV sticker for
the George Massey Tunnel, the lower maintenance fees and the almost $16,000
in rebates currently available from the provincial, federal and SCRAP-IT

In the end, McKeown bought a fully loaded $60,000 Chevrolet Bolt electric,
and cut the price down to $44,000 with incentives. He took possession of his
high-tech new ride early May 2019, and is pleased at how it all worked out.
'If the rebates weren't there, it wouldn't make sense,' he said of his
purchase. However, McKeown is now facing hassles and more than $4,000 to get
a charger installed in his strata townhome due to electrical upgrades.

The B.C. government is counting on motorists like McKeown to sort out the
details and make the switch from gas to electric vehicles as part of its
aggressive target to require all new car, SUV and light-duty trucks sales be
zero-emission by 2040

The idea to phase out gas vehicles as part of the NDP's Clean B.C.
climate-change-pollution reduction goal is attracting both criticism and
praise as the legislation winds its way through debate at the legislature.

Opposition Liberal MLAs have raised concerns about so-called 'range anxiety'
on the travel distance of electric vehicles, the lack of available charging
stations, battery-replacement costs of up to $8,000 exceeding the value of
the vehicle, pollution caused from battery recycling, the high cost of
retrofitting charging stations into existing strata buildings, and the need
in some parts of rural B.C. to continue to use more-powerful gas and
diesel-powered heavy-duty trucks.

'All of the items of concerns that they listed … they are not reasons to
pull back from this type of mandate, and that's the consensus amongst many
jurisdictions,' said Energy Minister Michelle Mungall. 'The world is
changing and B.C. has the option to stay behind or get on-board and we not
only want to get on-board, we want to be leaders.'

Interest in electric vehicles in B.C. is among the highest in Canada, and
made up four per cent of new, light-duty vehicle sales in 2018. In the first
quarter of 2019, sales rose to six per cent. There are more than 17,000
zero-emission vehicles currently on B.C. roads.

The legislation, if passed, will mean that in 2040 automobile manufacturers
will face fines if they sell or lease new sedans, SUVs or light-duty trucks
(Ford F-150-level equivalents) that run on gas. Regular hybrids also won't
be allowed, but plug-in hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles would be

To get there, B.C. proposes to phase in requirements of 10 per cent of
vehicle sales to be emissions-free by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.

New gas- or diesel-powered heavy duty vehicles, like Ford F-250s, buses,
transport trucks, motorcycles and medium-duty delivery vans, would be exempt
and still available for purchase after 2040. Also, used gas-powered vehicles
could still be sold at used-car dealerships.

Technically, the legislation sets out a complicated 'ZEV' unit sales
compliance system, similar to California, where automobile manufacturers
pick up units depending on the range and emission type of vehicles sold.
Penalties for failing to comply or properly report could be as high as $1

Opposition Liberals are supporting the legislation, but are still concerned
at government dictating what people can buy without a clear plan on how to
increase the number of charging stations and handle electricity demands,
said critic Peter Milobar.

'It's not going to accomplish anywhere near what the marketing of the
government is trying to make it out to be,' he said.
Milobar said provincial subsidies of up to $5,000 for a new, eligible
battery electric or plug-in hybrid aren't funded or guaranteed beyond 2019.
Ottawa has a $5,000-per-vehicle incentive program funded for three years.

'Part of the worry with this bill is — and I think it's a very valid and
real concern — is once you've made this a legislative mandate with very high
fine structures in place it's very easy for a government to turn around to
the manufactures and say there's no subsidies, it's your job to figure out
how to make people buy a car they don't want to buy,' said Milobar.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver, who owns an electric Nissan LEAF and just bought
an electric Hyundai Kona, refuted the concerns.
'Most of the points that were raised by the B.C. Liberals were not grounded
in anything close to reality, it's basically rhetoric from people who don't
want to see electric vehicles come in,' Weaver said.

Matthew Klippenstein, an EV adviser with the advocacy group Plug In B.C.,
who has chronicled Canadian electric-vehicle sales for the past seven years,
said the government's goal of 100-per-cent zero-emission new vehicle sales
by 2040 'could be a bit more challenging' to achieve and will depend on the
supply for consumers at dealerships, incentives and the attitude of

'We had our incentives lapse in 2014 to 2015, and sales of market EVs
dropped in half,' he said. 'There definitely is sticker-price sensitivity.'

Some Liberals from rural ridings have raised concerns that electric vehicles
aren't practical for the rugged roads and cold temperatures of rural
communities. That hasn't stopped Michelle Larstone, who two years ago
purchased a used 2012 Nissan LEAF and who has used its 150-kilometre range
to motor around rural Smithers in the snow and negative temperatures during
the winter.

'I'm a working mom, I've got two really busy teenaged daughters. We use it
for all those little errands around town, running to school and dance and
band and grabbing groceries in the winter,' she said. 'We love it.'
The family has even nicknamed the vehicle Dobby, after the resourceful house
elf from the Harry Potter

Larstone, who works for the government, said she makes sure to plug the
vehicle in each night and 'it's just the same as a northerner would be used
to plugging in a block heater.'
Extreme cold weather reduces the vehicle's range, but the family has a
second gas vehicle for longer road trips. 'It's a perfectly workable vehicle
in the north,' she said ...

Smithers only has one charging station, but Larstone said she's hopeful the
government will expand the charging infrastructure along Highway 16 and
better electrify the highway system.
'I have these two daughters and it really mattered to me that I modelled
this behaviour,' she said. 'Climate change is going to be the challenge of
their lifetime. If we can change our lifestyle even slightly, and make an
attempt to make a difference there, then I'm keen to do that. In doing that,
I think it really demonstrates to other people it's possible.'

Range anxiety, the fear that you might run out of electricity and become
stranded in your electric vehicle, has been considered by some as a social
barrier to widespread acceptance of the new vehicles and raised frequently
as a concern in the legislature during debate of the bill.

But Chad Purdy, a retired RCMP officer who lives with his partner and three
kids in Kamloops and in 2018 bought a 2016 Nissan LEAF, said he's never
wrestled with the phenomenon.
'What I find it's almost the opposite of range anxiety,' said Purdy. 'I find
that it's a stress relief. I don't even look at a gas-station board

Purdy said the major social switch will be people realizing they have
'over-vehicled' themselves by buying a larger car or truck than they
actually need with the justification they might use it more regularly. Purdy
pointed to the Jeep he traded in for his LEAF.

'I bought a vehicle I thought I needed for a purpose; turns out I wasn't
really doing very much of it and it turns out I was spending a lot for the
privilege,' he said. 'I'm probably like a lot of people, I over-vehicle
myself. It's too much, too big for what I need.'

The switch to an electric LEAF helped Purdy save almost $600 a month in gas,
which he used to cover the payments for the $30,000 electric car.

The adoption requires a shift in mindset, and a self-evaluation of how much
you actually drive every day, he said.
'If you need a longer range there are EVs that will support that,' he said.
'Ninety-five per cent of your driving you are nowhere near those ranges, you
are charging at home, supplementing at work or whenever you happen to be
shopping. You only really use that max-capacity range on your road trips.'
Both Purdy and Larstone said their families have second gas-powered vehicles
for longer trips, though both are looking to replace them with electric
vehicles in coming years as the technology advances.

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