EVs selling at astonishing rate in BC as gas prices rise

An estimated 1,300 EVs ordered in B.C. in just two weeks

Image: Business in Vancouver

High gas prices and new federal rebate driving more British Columbians to put in orders for electric vehicles.

British Columbians put in orders for an estimated 1,300 electric vehicles in a span of just two weeks, according to Blair Qualey, CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC.

To put that in context, a total of 3,270 EVs and hybrids sold in B.C. for the entire year in 2017, according to Fleetcarma.

Since a new federal rebate came into effect May 1, all of the money that was in the provincial incentive program – the CEV for BC – has been tapped.

“We had $6.5 million May 1, and on the 15th we ran out of money,” Qualey said. “So $6.5 million vanished in just over two weeks.”

Qualey said the provincial government agreed to top up the fund by another $10 million, and another $32 million more is expected, as the last provincial budget earmarked $42 million for the CEV for BC program.

The CEV for BC program got the $10 million top-up on Thursday and was drawn down to $9.5 million by Friday morning.

The provincial incentive offers a $2,500 rebate for a hybrid electric, and $5,000 for a battery electric vehicle.

But a new federal incentive of $5,000 is stackable, meaning British Columbians can get up to $10,000 in rebates for an EV.

When the new federal incentive was announced in the last federal budget, applications for the provincial rebate slowed to a trickle. Then on May 1, when the federal incentive became available, applications for provincial rebates spiked.

“I think what happened was we had this huge bubble of anticipated demand,” Qualey said.

While the new federal incentive is largely responsible for the sudden spike in EV orders, Qualey said high gasoline prices may be adding to the incentive to switch from gasoline to electricity.

“We would think that that ($10 million) would carry us, under normal circumstances, into the fall,” Qualey said. “But it’s really difficult to say. The high gas price right now…has really got people thinking about options.”

— Business in Vancouver