A direct-current fast charging station for electric vehicles at Squamish. (Black Press files)

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

Less than half of B.C.’s car dealerships have electric cars available for purchase, according to a report released Wednesday from Clean Energy Canada.

The authors posed as potential buyers at 292 car dealerships across the province and found starkly different responses as they called around B.C.

In the Lower Mainland, 54 per cent of car dealership had electric cars, although buyers had to wait between a few months and a whole year in order to get their hands on one.

The number went down on Vancouver Island and along the Sunshine Coast, with 43 per cent of dealerships having electric cars.

In Interior B.C., just 27 per cent of car dealerships had electric cars.

But if you’re trying to buy an electric car, don’t head north: just seven per cent of car lots had one.

READ MORE: B.C.’s subsidized electric vehicle sales gaining speed

READ MORE: B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

The lack of electric vehicles up north may be tied to a dearth of knowledge about the rebates available to buyers of electric cars or the charges needed to keep them running.

The 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.

In September, the province added $10 million to an existing $27 million fund for the rebate program, saying the cash it had set aside earlier was about to run out.

Up north, none of the car dealerships were aware of the province’s rebate program for either the cars or chargers.

In the Lower Mainland, with their much higher rates of electric cars, 75 per cent of car dealerships knew about the electric car rebate and 34 per cent knew about the charger rebate.

Across the board, researchers found that most salespeople were excited about selling electric cars.

“If we had more Bolts, way more would be sold,” one salesperson said.

“We just need the vehicles. They’re getting all eaten up in California.”

A survey conducted by the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. last month found that two out of five drivers are “definitely” or “probably” considering an electric vehicle.

Despite that, researchers spoke to customers frustrated with a lack of electric cars in the province.

Randy Rinaldo, of Burnaby, wanted to buy an electric Fiat 500 but had to go south of the border to find one.

“I was ready, willing and [an] able customer with money in hand to buy this car and there was no one to supply it for me,” Rinaldo said.

“We should just be able to walk into a dealership and buy these cars.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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