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Sales of electric vehicles in Langley rising fast

More than 2,300 people here have received rebates for EVs since 2015
Blair Qualey, president and CEO of the Langley-based New Car Dealers Association of B.C. EV sales are up sharply in Langley and across B.C. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Electric vehicles have been flying off the lots in Langley and around B.C., as the province announced that 13 per cent of all new light-duty cars and trucks registered in B.C. last year were EVs.

That’s up from 9.4 per cent in 2020 and 8.7 per cent in 2019, and it makes B.C. the leader in North American when it comes to adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

“More than a dozen years ago, the notion of ZEVs making a dent in BC’s new car market was unthinkable,” said Blair Qualey, president and CEO of the Langley-based New Car Dealers Association of B.C.

Qualey noted that it’s easy to see driving around Langley how the number of EVs on local roads has “grown quite dramatically” over the last few years.

In the Langley, the rise in EVs can also be seen in claims for EV rebates, which are processed through the New Car Dealers Association. Not every purchase of an EV is eligible for a rebate – some cars are too expensive to qualify – but they capture a significant number of those buying new electric cars.

In 2015, there were just 20 rebates paid for EVs to Langley residents.

In 2021, 772 rebates were paid in Langley.

For the first three months of 2022, 172 rebates have already been paid in Langley.

In total, there have been 2,332 EVs eligible for rebates sold to Langley residents since 2015.

Qualey expects local sales to increase as more models of EVs, including pickups, vans, and SUVs, are released this year and next. Pickups and other larger vehicles are popular around Langley for work and taking kids and their sports equipment places, Qualey noted.

“It’ll be terrific when these vehicles are available,” he said.

The big hitch is supply chains, which are slowing down production on all kinds of vehicles, including EVs, he noted.

READ MORE: B.C. tops in North America for ZEV uptake

The transition to more and more drivers buying EVs in B.C. has been rapid.

In 2015, fewer than 5,000 EVs in total were registered in B.C., but by 2017, that number had more than doubled, and was inching up towards 10,000. As more EVs came on the market, the number of registered EVs accelerated, passing 50,000 in 2020, and hitting 79,587 last year.

That’s still a small sliver of the total number of vehicles on B.C. roads. According to Statistics Canda, in 2019 there were more than 3.1 million light vehicles registered in B.C.

Qualey pointed to a “three pillar” approach that has driven the highest uptake of electric vehicles in North America.

First is rebates at point of purchase, which brings down the cost of vehicles to new buyers. Second is access to the growing network of charging stations across B.C. Third is collaboration between the industry, government, and utility companies.

The province is now ahead of its goals in EV adoption.

The province’s goals in 2019 were to hit 10 per cent EVs for all new light-duty vehicles sold in B.C., with an eventual 100 per cent by 2040.

That was tightened and the province now targets 26 per cent of all new sales as EVs by 2026, 90 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2035.

READ MORE: WEB POLL – Will your next car be electric?

Targets for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles have not yet been set, but transit is moving towards EVs as well.

TransLink currently has four battery-electric buses in its fleet, with 15 more on the way. In February, TransLink announced testing was starting on one of the new types of buses it will be adding soon.

Hundreds of more electric buses are planned for the transit agency. Right now, TransLink’s bus operator, Coast Mountain, runs 466 diesel-electric hybrid buses, 401 diesel buses, 299 compressed natural gas buses, 262 electric trolley buses, and 163 gasoline community shuttle buses, along with 32 double deckers.

Langley School District is also acquiring its first electric buses, with the trustees voting last summer in favour of adding two vehicles to the school bus fleet to serve Aldergrove Secondary.

Since 2020, 52 electric school buses have been ordered through the province’s Go Electric School Bus program, and in 2021, out of 84 buses ordered by districts across the province, 34 were electric, a 40 per cent increase in EV bus adoption rates.

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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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