Higher rebates are sparking interest in electric vehicles, if you can get one.
Transport Canada’s rebate of $5,000 took effect May 1, and when combined with a provincial rebate of the same amount, shaves $10,000 of the final price of new vehicle, making the price of a zero-emission car almost within reach of a comparable, gasoline-powered model.
At Maple Ridge Volkswagen, the dealership can’t keep any e-Golfs on the lot, because they’re basically sold before they arrive, said sales manager Adam Walker.
“It’s like the holy grail of cars for us right now,” Walker added.
“We’re shipping them in from anywhere and everywhere we can.”
The e-Golf, with a battery range of 240 kilometres, has only been in Canada since 2018 and has been popular since, although VW hasn’t produced a lot, he said.
Currently, customers could be waiting from one to six months to get a new model, which sometimes means they have to settle for their second or third choice in colours.
Walker said five or six customers are currently waiting for orders of the $40,000 e-Golf to arrive. Once the rebates take effect, $10,000 can be shaved off the price, although taxes are charged on the full amount of the vehicle.
Marcus Pinto, sales manager at Maple Ridge Hyundai, said the rebates have helped.
“Ever since the second rebate has come out, the sales have definitely shot up a little bit,” Pinto added.
But the Hyundai Kona EV, priced at about $48,000, was already selling well.
“But it’s really stepped up our sales on our Ioniq model,” which is less expensive.
Currently, there are about 30 pending sales of electric vehicles, Pinto said.
As long as the rebates are in place, he expects people to keep taking advantage of them, with about 20 EV sales expected every month.
The high price of gasoline – from $1.63 a litre to $1.71 in Maple Ridge, as of Thursday, according to gasbuddy.com – also comes up when customers are considering new cars, he said.
Pinto said EV sales are growing as the battery ranges of the vehicles grow.
The Ioniq used to have 200-km range, meaning many would use it as a secondary vehicle. He expects gasoline-powered vehicles to account for most sales for years, but now with a 400-km range of the Kona EVs, “it’s definitely opened up that window of using it as an everyday, primary vehicle.”
Randy Saunders, general sales manager at West Coast Toyota, said since the governent has doubled rebates for electric cars, sales are through the roof.
“We sold nine Prius Primes in the last two weeks,” he added.
Saunders said the dealership is thrilled about the new rebate “for many reasons, not just because they’re selling better, but also that it gives customers another option that is better for them.”
Scott Jones, co-owner with West Coast Auto Group, said the Kia Soul EV and Kia Niro EV are selling fast, as is the Nissan Leaf, which was selling well even before the additional federal rebate.
“The actual rebate that came in May 1, has been huge,” he said. Customers wanted to wait until the rebates were in place before taking delivery of their new cars, he added.
“With gas prices at $1.70 to $1.80, the hybrids and EVs are going gang busters right now.
“It’s almost a wholesale change happening before our eyes. It’s off the wall.”
He added that in April, in B.C., 37 per cent of Toyota sales involved a hybrid vehicle.
Toyota also has some electric vehicles on the lot right now and more are on the way.
Former Green party candidate Peter Tam has had three Nissan Leaf electric vehicles, but is in the middle of switching brands.
“I just placed an order for Tesla because of the rebates,” said Tam. “I was waiting for that.”
He’s ordered a Tesla Model 3 Range Plus, with a range of 368 km.
It will take about a month before he takes delivery and the vehicle will cost $53,000, plus tax, after which the $10,000 in rebates will be applied.
Tam made that choice after Transport Canada raised the price of qualifying vehicles from $45,000 to $55,000.
Tam said in the last month that his local EV Facebook group has almost doubled its members to 300.
“I think they’re feeling the pinch with the gas prices.”
Amanda Grochowich, Maple Ridge city planner, said the growth in use at the city charging stations was up 42 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017.
“We were looking at 1,000 electric vehicle users in 2018,” she said, based on the charging done at the seven city-owned charging stations in the town centre.
EVs are considered zero emissions, and Grochowich estimates the city avoided 32,000 kg of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 through use of electric vehicles.
Since the charging stations were established in 2013, it has stopped an estimated 81,000 kg in emissions in total, she said.
The B.C. point-of-sale incentive program, administered by the New Car Dealers, provides up to $5,000 for purchase or lease of a new battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, or up to $6,000 for the emerging technology of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The federal rebates will take up to $5,000 off the cost of electric vehicles, and $2,500 off plug-in hybrids.