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More than 25 per cent of new cars sold in B.C. are electric: stats

Head of Langley-based dealer organization says charging infrastructure needs work
Electric vehicle chargers at Langley City hall. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

More than a quarter of all new cars sold in B.C. were electric or hybrids in the third quarter of 2023 according to new statistics.

The S&P Global Mobility survey showed that 26.4 per cent of all new light duty vehicle sales in the province were of zero-emission vehicles, a category that includes battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid cars. That’s up from 20.5 per cent in the second quarter and 20 per cent in the first quarter.

Numbers were even higher in the Metro Vancouver area, where 31.2 per cent of new sales were EVs or hybrids.

“We’re kind of predisposed in this province to think more about climate and the environment,” said Blair Qualey, president and CEO of the Langley-based New Car Dealers Association of B.C.

British Columbia has been leading Canada in the adoption of EVs for several years, with combined provincial and federal rebates making it cheaper for local car buyers.

Quebec, which also provides its own rebates, had the next-highest amount of EV sales, at 22.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2023. Nationally, 13.3 per cent of all light duty vehicles in Canada sold in that period were EVs or hybrids.

Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Saskatchewan had the fewest EVs sold. However, in Yukon, 10.4 per cent of all vehicles sold in the last quarter of 2023 were EVs or hybrids.

Part of what’s driving the boom is more models of EVs that are now available, compared to a few years ago.

But Qualey noted that vehicle availability of all kinds improved in 2023 after several years of disruption to supply chains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although B.C. is now ahead of or meeting federal targets for the next few years, Qualey said that a lot has to be done to meet future targets.

The federal government has set targets that by 2030, 90 per cent of all new cars sold in the province will be EVs, and by 2035, it will be 100 per cent.

READ ALSO: Gas powered car and truck sales done in Canada by 2035

Two big issues that need to be tackled before B.C. car buyers can meet those targets are charging infrastructure and vehicle price, said Qualey.

The B.C. government has done a good job of expanding charging infrastructure to major routes and places where people gather, he said.

“But it’s nowhere near what it’s going to take to get to the 2030 target of 90 per cent,” he said.

Governments still need to invest more in charging, including in multi-family buildings like condos and apartment buildings, Qualey said.

In addition, EVs remain more expensive than comparable internal combustion vehicles.

One of the biggest makers of EVs in the world is China, and its cheaper models have not yet been exported to Canada, but VinFast, a Vietnamese carmaker, recently began importing to Canada and the U.S.

“I absolutely expect these manufacturers from China are looking at the market in Canada,” said Qualey.

Importing vehicles requires both the company to want to, and for Transport Canada to approve the models.

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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