Electric vehicle rally sends 'powerful' message
June 3, 2019  Christina Stevens CTV 2018

There are about 400 EV charging stations on the South Island. (File photo)

Dozens of electric vehicles quietly zipped around southern Vancouver Island
over a recent 10-day span, their drivers taking part in a rally open
exclusively to e-vehicles.

Participants had to unravel clues and travel to as many of the 122 rally
locations as they could in the first-ever Plug-In Challenge.

“It was huge,” said Julian Sale, a director with the Victoria EV Club, which
organized the event.

“The intention here was to get people driving around on electricity, without
burning any gas at all,” said Sale.

Even though they already own EVs, many of the 56 drivers were surprised what
the vehicles are capable of.

“In this challenge we did about 900 kilometres, and at the highest BC Hydro
rate for my car to go that 900 kilometres cost me $18 in electricity,"
Martin Webb, the proud owner of a Smart EV.

"For 10 days of driving for hours on end and having absolutely tremendous
fun, $18,” he said.

“And finding the huge number of chargers over on Salt Spring has now taken
away the fear of being able to drive over to Salt Spring with the car that
has limited range,” he added.

His experience is in line with a new Research Co. poll which found most
Vancouver Islanders say they’ll seriously consider buying an EV the next
time they purchase a new car.

“What is also interesting is a really high level of endorsement for the
things that the government is doing – so 71 per cent who say it's a good
idea that by 2040 all vehicles should be electric and zero-emission," said
Mario Canseco, president of Research Co.

According to the poll, the biggest thing holding islanders back is the
concern about having enough places to charge a vehicle, followed by the fear
of being stranded if they can’t find a charging station. The price of
electric vehicles was the third concern.

Canseco said there are far more charging stations than most people realize
and with the right combination of rebates drivers can take up to $16,000 off
the price of an EV.

There are about 400 charging stations on the South Island.

Somehow those facts have to get to drivers, Canseco said.

"It's not only about infrastructure but information. People need to know
that by the time they make this decision that the charging stations will be
there for them," he said.

Cordova Bay’s Sheena Pennie doesn’t need any convincing.

Pennie and a friend managed to get to 101 destinations during Plug-In
Challenge, more than anyone else.

“These two crazy ladies and we won the top prize, it was fantastic," said
Pennie, who has two electric vehicles. "We just had a blast."

She said the rally was a great opportunity to educate others about electric

“Once you are an EV driver, you are the biggest ambassador going. You will
tell and convince everybody to buy electric cars.”

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