A Tesla charges in the parking lot of the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre in South Surrey last week. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Electric vehicles gaining traction in community and across B.C.

New charging station added to South Surrey

It’s hard to hit the road without seeing at least one fully-electric vehicle cruising the streets in South Surrey and White Rock.

British Columbia saw the second highest rate of electric vehicle sales in the country, behind Ontario, according to a 2017 study by Fleet Carma. New electric vehicle sales increased by approximately 48 per cent in the province over 2016, equalling more than 3,000 new electric vehicles on the road in 2017.

A number of those electric vehicles are driving on roads primarily in the Lower Mainland, due to two primary constraints.

One of the biggest challenges with owning an electric vehicle – according to David Plug, a South Surrey resident who has owned a fully electric vehicle for one year – is its range.

His 2017 Nissan Leaf – for example – gets about 200 kilometres on a full-charge. A newer model Tesla is said to reach about 400 kilometres.

It can cause limitations, Plug said, explaining that right after he got the vehicle, he was to travel to Kelowna for a conference. He cancelled the trip because the electric vehicle charging station in Hope was out of service at the time.

Another limitation of driving electric, Plug added, is using the vehicle during cold temperatures, but not because of the vehicle’s ability to manage winter roads.

“Using the heating takes up about 10 per cent of the charge. With 200 kilometres, it’s OK to go from South Surrey to Vancouver twice in two days. But, if you have drive around in Vancouver to Burnaby, to Coquitlam… and when you come back you have to drive your kid to a softball game in Cloverdale or something like that – it can be a bit of a challenge,” Plug told Peace Arch News.

Plug said it’s becoming easier to plan travel routes, as the province has been adding more charging stations in cities and along highways.

According to BC Hydro, there are now close to 1,000 level 2 chargers across B.C. – stations that will fully charge most vehicles in less than five hours.

And there are 30 BC Hydro-installed DC fast chargers that will do that same job in less than 30 minutes, plus another nine Tesla superchargers for use by Tesla owners.

The electric-vehicle chargers are free to use.

According to Plug Share – an app and website that documents charging stations throughout the world – there are approximately 10 charging stations in South Surrey, with one that’s currently under construction near the Real Canadian Superstore (160 Street and 24 Avenue).

The provincial government is encouraging British Columbians to purchase electric-powered vehicles.

Residents, businesses, non-profit organizations and civic governments who purchase or lease qualifying electric vehicles are eligible for up to $5,000 off the pre-tax sticker price.

The province will also cover 75 per cent of the cost (up to $750) for the purchase and installation of home charging stations; a rebate for multi-unit residential buildings covers 75 per cent of the cost (up to $4,000); and a 50 per cent rebate for workplace charging systems (up to $4,000).

More information on government incentives can be found at www.bchydro.com/powersmart/electric-vehicles/owning-an-electric-vehicle/rebates-and-incentives.html

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