By Kirk Grayson/Special to The News
My car and I are breaking up.
I bought my 2001 apple red Honda Accord when it was two years old.
The prized ride of an elderly gent who had recently given up driving, this little darling had only 20,000 well-maintained clicks when I purchased her through the buy-and-sell at work.
Since then she has gamely ushered our family through two career changes, one engineering degree, a host of short-haul trips around the Lower Mainland, and innumerable errands.
It’s been 16 years and 219,000 km of reliable, comfortable transportation. Much appreciated by all of us.
But it’s over. She’s starting to show signs of age that spell the end for any car of mine. I am loyal, or maybe I’m just lazy, but I’m not crazy.
When the repair bills are bigger than the insurance costs, I’m out.
For my next car, I’m thinking an electric vehicle – or EV – is in order.
I’ve been doing some research.
When EV fans talk about instant torque and quick acceleration, they’re not kidding.
Hubby and I took one for a test spin and it was a blast to drive.
I love the idea of zooming around without spewing CO2 into the air or making any noise – another form pollution I can live without.
Running costs are lower too.
An EV costs about $2 for the electricity to go 100 km, compared to $12-$14 worth of gas.
A website called ChargeHub has a calculator to help you figure out how much you’ll save each year.
And EV drivers save a whack of money on maintenance, since the electric motors are so much simpler than combustion engines.
As more EVs roll off the assembly lines, their battery power is increasing. You’re no more likely to run out of battery power now than you are to run out of gas.
The network of charging stations is expanding too.
PlugShare is a free app where you can see all the charging stations on your route. The app displays the type of charge available (regular or fast) and user ratings.
Currently, it doesn’t cost anything to use a charging station in B.C., though it won’t be that way forever. But it’s a nice short-term incentive.
Speaking of incentives, the provincial and federal governments have some pretty great ones for EVs.
B.C. offers up to $3,000 off the price of a new battery electric vehicle and up to $1,500 off the price of a new plug-in hybrid electric (a car that uses both gas and electric power).
These incentives are managed through car dealerships.
The rebates apply to vehicles up to $55,000 in value. A pro-rated amount is available for leased vehicles, too.
This is a time-limited program that happens each year, and the door is about to slam shut for 2020.
March 31st is the deadline to seal the deal and apply, and there is only $3 million left in the kitty.
If this sounds like a lot, the kitty started out with $20 million in mid-February, so $17 million has already been lapped up by drivers thirsty for help financing their new clean-and-green rides.
The federal government’s iZEV program offers up to $5,000 off the purchase price of a new battery- powered vehicle, and $2,500 – $5,000 for a plug-in hybrid.
These incentives are also managed at the dealership.
What to do with your old vehicle?
SCRAP-IT. That’s the program that recycles your old gas-powered car and pays you $3,000 if you’re purchasing a used EV, or $6,000 if you’re purchasing new.
There are quite a few caveats to qualify for the SCRAP-IT program, so read all the fine print before you even start to shop.
From CRA, there’s more good news.
Businesses can write off 100 per cent of the value of their EV up to a maximum value of $55,000.
As a business owner, you can either apply for the incentives or write off the value of the vehicle – but not both.
Finally, BC Hydro will help with the cost of installing a charger in your home. But hurry – this rebate also ends March 31.
Electric vehicle sales in B.C. are the highest anywhere in North America.
This makes them a little tough to find, and wait times for new vehicles are long.
But happily you can find great deals on used EVs.
True, there are fewer incentives for used cars, but the much lower starting price makes them a terrific option.
And you can still take advantage of the SCRAP-IT program and BC Hydro rebates.
Now I just hope I can find something in red.
– Kirk Grayson is a digital strategy consultant, founding member of the Maple Ridge Climate Hub and convenor of Maple Meadows Green Drinks