Keith Gibson of Preston GM with a Chevrolet Bolt. Electric cars made up almost 10 per cent of new light vehicle sales in B.C. last year, the government says. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Keith Gibson of Preston GM with a Chevrolet Bolt. Electric cars made up almost 10 per cent of new light vehicle sales in B.C. last year, the government says. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

More electric cars, charging stations coming to Langley

Car dealers and local governments are prepping for an EV future

Electric vehicles are appearing on the roads of Langley and British Columbia at a faster rate than expected, according to the provincial government.

In 2020, 9.4 per cent of all light-duty vehicles sold in B.C. were EVs, and 54,469 EVs were on the road in B.C., according to a provincial government announcement.

This is the highest reported uptake of new EVs in North America.

It also puts B.C. well ahead of schedule. Under the CleanBC plan, the province had mandated that 10 per cent of all light duty vehicles sold by 2025 be zero emission vehicles. The electric vehicles sold in 2020 are expected to reduce carbon emissions by 216,000 tonnes per year compared to internal combustion vehicles.

A local car dealer said the number of sales is only going to go up – as long as government subsidies remain in place.

“We’re kind of at the tip of the iceberg,” said Keith Gibson, new vehicle sales manager at the Preston GM dealership.

Right now the dealership is selling the Chevrolet Bolt, which is getting a model upgrade for the 2022 year, set to arrive later this calendar year.

Then there’s all the other cars on the way from various car makers.

“The next few years will see a drastic increase in the models of EV,” Gibson said.

So far, almost all EVs are sedans or hatchbacks.

But the biggest single type of car sold are crossovers and SUVs, and electric versions of those, including a new model of Bolt, are coming out in the coming year, Gibson said.

Two kinds of EV Hummer are also on the horizon, as that brand is reimagined from gas-guzzling giant SUV to green vehicles.

“We’ve had quite a few people already leave reservations,” for the Hummer, said Gibson.

There’s plenty of competition in Langley and across the province, as well.

Tesla is taking over the former Jonker Nissan site on the Langley Bypass for a full dealership, and companies such as Kia and Ford have also come out with electric vehicles in recent years. Volkswagen is expected to roll out its ID.4 SUV later this year in North America.

READ MORE: Tesla to take over Jonker Nissan site

One of the major issues people have had with EVs has been range anxiety – battery electric vehicles typically have lower ranges than gas-powered vehicles, and finding somewhere to plug-in isn’t always easy.

But the charging network is expanding rapidly around the community and beyond.

ChargePoint, Petro Canada, several newer shopping centres, and both the City and Township have set up charging stations around Langley in recent years. There are now publicly accessible points in Walnut Grove, Willoughby, Langley City and Willowbrook, Murrayville, and Aldergrove.

The number of publicly-run charging stations in Langley is growing this year.

Langley City has chargers at the City Hall/Timms Community Centre in the underground parking lot, and its Environmental Task Group is investigating installing user-pay chargers at Timms as well as other facilities. City council is waiting for a report on the subject.

The Township already runs a number of both Level 2 chargers – which are relatively slow – and one DC Fast Charter in partnership with BC Hydro. Federal government grants helped install chargers at the Township operations centre and at the Civic Facility on 65th Avenue.

This year, the Township plans to install a two-port charger at the George Preston Rec Centre, another fast charger at the operations centre, along with four ports for staff charging and eight ports for fleet vehicles.

Another two-port staff charger is planned for the Civic Facility and another six ports for fleet vehicles there too, according to Greg Dennis, the Township’s energy manager.

However, the average number of daily charging sessions fell somewhat last year, from 57 average daily charges in 2019 to 45 in 2020.

Dennis said the numbers dropped sharply last March as people began driving less due to the pandemic.

PREVIOUSLY: Popularity of electric car chargers up 3,000% in Langley Township

Right now, charging is free for members of the public, but it will start to cost this year.

The level 2 chargers will cost $1 per hour, or $3 per hour after the first two hours, and the fast chargers will cost $16 per hour.

Even without free power, electricity costs less than gasoline, and the cost of maintenance is lower for the mechanically-simpler EVs, said Gibson.

He noted that not everyone who comes in to the dealership is interested in buying an EV – some don’t want one.

But those who buy them seem convinced.

“I don’t hear many people ever wanting to go back,” Gibson said.

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