Byron Heslop replaces the charger from an EV station at Hillcrest Aquatic centre on Saturday after charging his 2020 Kai Soul EV in preparation for a trip to Whistler.
Gerry Kahrmann / Postmedia News
With record-breaking gas prices and three incentives worth up to $16,000 toward clean-energy vehicles in B.C., electric-car dealers saw an unprecedented surge in sales earlier this month.On May 1 a federal incentive program for new electric vehicles came into effect, worth either $2,500 and $5,000, depending on a vehicle’s price range. Then, on May 16, the B.C. government topped up the Clean Energy Vehicles for B.C. program with $10 million in incentives worth up to $5,000.Finally, the B.C. SCRAP-IT program, which allows people to trade in their “high-polluting” wheels for electric vehicles, cut cheques worth $3,000 toward used models and $6,000 toward new ones.Meantime, drivers of gas vehicles in B.C. have been frustrated by soaring fuel prices, which recently hit $1.72 a litre at some Metro Vancouver gas stations.“We have seen unprecedented levels of CEV sales since the federal government added its incentives starting May 1, which has resulted in greater success than anticipated,” said an email from the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.“In the first part of May, our CEV sales rates have doubled compared with our CEV sales rates from the last half of 2018.”Part of the surge was because people were holding off buying in April while waiting for the federal incentive to kick in.But in the first three months of 2019, clean-energy vehicle sales — which include battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles — still made up more than six per cent of light-duty vehicle sales, up from four per cent in 2018 and one per cent in 2017 and 2016.Government stats for the CEV for B.C. incentive show that 2,248 incentives were claimed during the first 51 days of the April-June quarter, up from 2,150 during the previous full 90-day quarter.Whether a driver could snag all three incentives, however, came down to timing and availability, according to three electric-vehicle salespeople reached Saturday by phone. They said sales are brisk, stock is difficult to keep up and incentives are running out fast.By Saturday afternoon, $5.5 million had been drained from last week’s $10-million CEV for B.C. top-up, and B.C. SCRAP-IT vehicle vouchers were gone.Bruce Stout, a director with the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, has kept a keen eye on the flow of incentives and believes only two people were actually able to snag all three this month.One of them was Byron Heslop, who Postmedia News tracked down Saturday charging his new 2020 Kia Soul in a Vancouver parking lot.Heslop, who was preparing for a single-charge trip to Whistler and back, was thrilled to buy his first electric car on May 3.
Byron Heslop charges his 2020 Kai Soul EV at the Hillcrest Aquatic centre in preparation for a trip to Whistler on Saturday, May 25. (Gerry Kahrmann/PNG photo)
Gerry Kahrmann /
“With the gas prices so high at the time and the incentives so good, (it was) the perfect storm,” he said.Heslop, a member of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, said he made the switch mainly for environmental reasons. He saved up for two years to buy the right vehicle, he said.He had to act fast to get all three incentives and settled for his second colour choice, Neptune blue, which stung because he is a manager and colour consultant at a local paint store, he said. But $10,000 in government incentives and a $6,000 cheque from B.C. SCRAP-IT knocked a hefty sum off the car’s $51,600 list price.“I thought it was awesome, it was great for me,” he said. “It did enable me to get my first choice of vehicle.”The $10-million CEV for B.C. top-up was the first instalment of funds from $42 million allocated for the program in the 2019 provincial budget. The province’s CleanBC plan has a contingency fund of $37.3 million that could be accessed if the CEV for B.C. funding runs dry this fiscal year, the ministry said.The federal incentive will be drawn from a pool of $300 million over three years, according to Transport Canada.firstname.lastname@example.org/nickeaglandCLICK HERE to report a typo.Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com