British Columbia hits 1,000 EV’s (and gov’t drops support)

image of Tesla Model S’s at a rally, from Consumer Reports


British Columbians have now purchased more than 1,000 plug-in electric vehicles. Add in low-speed neighbourhood electric vehicles and owner conversions, and the number will be a bit higher.

As of Jan 31, 2014 Polk research (now a division of IHS) had tracked 912 plug-in electric vehicle registrations in BC, representing about 1/6 of all PHEV registrations in Canada to date. British Columbia has about 1/8 of Canada’s population, so the numbers are largely in line with what we’d expect from the demographics.

Polk’s data doesn’t include the Toyota Prius Plug-in, Ford C-Max Energi or Ford Fusion Energi, however. Vehicle registrations for these plug-ins, is lumped in with sales of the regular hybrid versions. And through the end of 2013, these three models enjoyed Canadian sales of 594 units.

Assuming that BC represented 1/6 of these sales (being 99 vehicles) then British Columbia’s plug-in population has hit four figures. At the end of January, sales would have been on the order of 912+99 = 1011. And that doesn’t include any Prius Plug-in, C-Max Energi or Fusion Energi sales in the province in January.

Add probable sales in February to the mix, and we should be comfortably above the 1,000-car mark.

As always, my spreadsheet tracking plug-in sales in Canada and the U.S., and other related data, is at:

Government (lack of) support

Unfortunately, British Columbia hit a more dubious milestone recently, as the provincial government became the first in Canada to abandon its clean energy vehicle rebate program. This is part of a shift that has seen the province reverse its one-time environmental leadership — the province implemented a modest but popular, revenue-neutral carbon tax in 2008 — and embrace fossil fuels as its future.

Dazzled by the prospect of rich royalty streams, the government has decided to stake the province’s future on LNG development —  despite the fact that such fossil fuel exploitation will accelerate climate change, make it impossible to meet official emissions targets, and will increase the frequency of disasters such as the pine beetle epidemic. There’s also the fact that no country (except Norway) has ever parlayed their natural resources into sustainable prosperity. (Instead of reinvesting their royalty stream in themselves, they usually piss it away on tax breaks.)

The best case scenario is that advocates demanding the reinstatement of the Clean Energy Vehicle for BC rebates, are able to restore funding to the program by finding not-yet-committed funds in other government departments which would stand to benefit from the benefits. (e.g. the Health or Transportation Ministries)

Chronicling my EV chronicling

My January GreenCarReports articles included the usual monthly sales roundup, this one covering calendar-2013.

I also did a “butts-in-seats” piece about how Best Western Hotels signed a deal with VIA Motors’ Canadian distributor, Sun Country Highway, to trial VIA’s plug-in electric vans in a big way — deploying up to 1,000 vehicles as airport/hotel shuttle buses. (The “butts-in-seats” angle comes from the fact that the best way to convince people to consider electric vehicles, is to get their butts in the seats of EV’s.) That was pretty fun.

The coolest piece, though, was an analysis of the U.S. electric vehicle market in 2013, by vehicle price and type. I took a published set of sales data for each car model sold in the U.S., then manually pulled MSRP data for each one, off the web. (To be precise, I pulled the entry-level MSRP for each model.)  I also classified vehicles by type — car, truck, SUV — and then calculated EV market share at different price points.

After excluding truck and crossover/SUV sales, the end result fit nicely with a “1-2-3” mnemonic. (The former were removed from the calculations because, despite being almost half the American auto market, the Toyota RAV4 EV is the only plug-in vehicle in those categories — and it’s only available in California.)

  • plug-ins were 1% of the US car market (non-truck, non-crossover/SUV) in 2013
  • plug-ins were 2% of the US car market, among models with an entry-level MSRP of $20,000+
  • plug-ins were 3% of the US car market, among models with an entry-level MSRP of $25,000+

It was a fun analysis to perform — and though it was a bit tedious getting all the MSRP data, I felt as though I’d innovated a creative and insightful way of parsing the data.

And it seem the California Air Resources Board agreed. They reached out asking for the details on how I’d done the analysis, which led to an enjoyable teleconference call. And while they probably won’t wind up using the data in any reports — they’ll surely have better and more California-centric data handy — it was awesomely validating for my data to be in demand. :)

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