Electric vehicle sales are booming, but can British Columbia keep up?

“There is fundamentally more demand than there is supply in terms of charging solutions,” said Dr. Werner Antweiler.

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As gas prices rise across the country, restrictions on home charging options have become a bottleneck holding back the adoption of electric vehicles, experts say.

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“The real issue right now is home charging,” said Harry Constantine, president of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association.

Constantine said that while there are “a number of programs” supporting electric vehicle charging stations in residential buildings, “people are running into issues just installing a charger in their stratum.” He cited rules that require a two-thirds majority to implement changes in strata buildings.

Werner Antweiler, a professor at the UBC Sauder School of Business who studies electric vehicles, agrees.

“There is fundamentally more demand than there is supply in terms of charging solutions,” Antweiler said, calling it a “significant headache” for people who rely on public charging stations.

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“We’ve actually been successful in installing charging stations in our building,” he said of his own efforts to install electric vehicle charging in his strata. “It’s difficult. There are a lot of obstacles. You have to change the statutes. You have to find someone who can actually find a solution that works for this particular building.

“It’s a major commitment of time and effort to go through the different stages…to understand the engineering side.”

New data from Statistics Canada shows that 65,253 new battery-only electric cars and plug-in hybrids were registered in Canada in the first nine months of 2021, more than the number recorded over 12 months in any previous year. Three out of four electric vehicles registered last year were sold in British Columbia or Quebec.

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A recent Clean Energy Canada poll found that 80% of Canadians were willing to buy an electric car before the recent spike in gas prices.

The problem is availability, program manager Joanna Kyriazis said.

“Record inventory levels mean dealers can’t keep up and Canadian drivers are waiting not only months, but in some cases years, to get their hands on a new EV.

Then there’s the matter of charging options.

Antweiler said three major groups are having difficulty with electric vehicle charging — tenants, condominium tenants and single-family owners without dedicated parking.

“Cities like Vancouver must strive to provide charging solutions on residential streets,” he said, noting how European cities have experimented with using street lights as a source of vehicle charging. electrical.

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BCIT is also experimenting with the use of public lighting infrastructure as a power source for electric vehicles.

Constantine said it was a mistake to believe that every charging station required large power sources.

“There’s a misconception that we need an enormous amount of energy to power all these cars,” he said, citing research by the BC Institute of Technology aimed at optimizing power requirements. electric vehicle charging.

BC Hydro said an electric vehicle can save 80% in gas expenses over a year and about $100 per month in maintenance costs compared to a gas-powered vehicle. There are also provincial and federal rebates of up to $8,000 for electric vehicle purchases in British Columbia.

British Columbia has the highest electric vehicle adoption rate in North America, with zero-emission vehicles accounting for 13% of all car sales in the province in 2021.

“It pays to have an electric vehicle,” Antweiler said. “Because, per kilometer, it’s so much cheaper.”

  1. British Columbia’s interest in electric vehicles is spurred by high prices at the pump

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    Are you considering buying an electric vehicle? Here are 5 things to know

— with files from Cheryl Chan, Derrick Penner and The Canadian Press

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