Appetite grows for more environmentally friendly vehicles

RICHMOND – New car sales are expected to reach record highs again this year driven by increased consumer confidence and a number of great new products on the lot.


Dozens of new vehicles have been unveiled by automakers in recent months, most of which include exciting new technology to make driving safer, more efficient and more fun.


Many car buyers are also looking for better fuel efficiency in their rides, which most new vehicles offer.


This helps drivers not only save money, but also do their part to reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions.


Low interest rates are also creating some great deals for new car buyers, allowing dealers the chance to offer incentives such as low or even zeroper-cent purchase financing.


These are some of the factors behind the 6.5-per-cent increase in light-vehicle sales across Canada in October (the latest data available). According to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, 154,949 new cars and trucks were driven off lots from coast to coast.


Demand for pickup trucks and SUVs was particularly strong, accounting for about 58 per cent of sales for the month.


In B.C., year-todate light vehicle sales increased by 6.1 per cent to 162,408 vehicles in October compared to 2013.


About 1.58 million vehicles were sold across Canada between January and October this year, which compares to just under 1.5 million for the same period last year. Economists are calling for 2014 to be another record year.


That includes a growing appetite for more environmentally friendly hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), particularly in the Lower Mainland now that Tesla has opened its first B.C. store in downtown Vancouver.


Other manufacturers are also selling EVs, which is leading to an increase in the number of charging stations across the province.


EV prices are also starting to come down, making the vehicles more affordable for some households. Unfortunately, the B.C. government stopped offering a $5,000 rebate for EVs earlier this year, which has put a damper on sales.


I believe it’s very important for the government to build more public charging stations and provide other incentives to help the EV market reach a more critical mass.


Overall, the good news for buyers is there’s a wide range of terrific new vehicles to choose from. The hard part -and for some it’s also the fun part -is picking the one that best suits your needs and wants.


Make sure you mark your calendar now for the 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show from March 24-29 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.


Blair Qualey is president and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC, based in Richmond. Email him at

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