On the last day before Jonker Nissan on the Langley Bypass closed for good, owners Karel and Karen Jonker dropped by for a photo and interviews.
“It’s the end of an era,” Karel told the Langley Advance Times, looking over the now-empty showroom.
It was Monday, Feb. 1, shortly before the facility at 19505 Langley Bypass was to become the first showroom for electric car manufacturer Tesla south of the Fraser and its first east of Vancouver in the Lower Mainland.
At the time of the interview, the move-in was already in progress, with Tesla operating a delivery centre from the 10,000 sq. ft warehouse, and preparing to take over the 15,000 sq. ft sales and service building.
On Saturday, Feb. 13, the Tesla sales side officially opened, with an April opening planned for two “quick service bays” equipped with vehicle lifts, along with an additional eight vehicle lifts in regular service bays.
On the former Jonker Nissan website, the Jonkers posted a thank you message to their customers for “their support and loyalty these past 30 years.”
“We had a golden opportunity with Tesla,” Karel explained.
“They really needed to find a right-sized location, especially south of the Fraser.”
For the Jonkers, who have seen plenty of changes during their time in the industry, the shift to zero-emission electrical vehicles is the way of the future.
Karen Jonker noted the couple “became interested in environmental issues ourselves,” many years earlier, building three “passive homes,” low-energy houses with no furnaces.
In 10 years, Karel predicted, most cars on the road will be electrical.
“The electric car age is not far away,” he declared.
“This is a massive, massive, change. We are seeing the end of the ICE, the internal combustion engine. It’s inevitable.”
He personally has been driving a Tesla for more than four years.
Karel predicted the planned Tesla Cybertruck will do very well in the Surrey-Langley-Abbotsford area, based on his own experience of the region.
“This is much more truck country,” Jonker commented, adding the former Nissan facility has equipment and hoists that can handle full-size pickup trucks.
Jonker has been a family business from the get-go, with Karen in charge of the Nissan facility, and both sons, Erik and Christian getting their feet wet – literally – at an early age.
“Both our kids started out washing cars,” Karen noted.
The Jonker name isn’t disappearing from the Bypass, however.
“We’re keeping Jonker Honda” which is right next door, Karel said.
Son Erik is the dealer principal at the Honda facility.
Karel pointed out Honda has been a leader in developing electric car technology, manufacturing a range of hybrid electric models.
Staff at the Nissan dealership were all offered jobs at other locations and some have ended up just down the road at Applewood Nissan in Langley.
Christian Jonker was GM of the Nissan dealership, and wasn’t immediately sure where he would be going.
“It’s early days,” he said.
“I’m still winding down the Nissan dealership.”
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