If you believe driving an electric car is a great way to help make the world a better place then you can be forgiven if you think our provincial government is, well, rather provincial.
Governments all over the world are scrambling to find new ways to encourage industry to build more green cars and tempt consumers to buy them. But not here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
My personal theory is, like snow clearing in St. John’s, it’s become part of our “can’t do” attitude.
And apparently it’s contagious. Not even the auto makers believe in this market. The local Chev dealer will sell you a Volt, but probably not off the lot. Slow-moving inventory is expensive to carry. Expect to place an order and wait for delivery. And don’t even ask Nissan to sell you a Leaf, the most popular plug-in car in the world. The company doesn’t sell them here.
Which strikes me as odd because technical challenges appear to be falling by the wayside. Electric cars are proving to be reliable. Driving range between charges is increasing. For many families going electric is a viable option, at least for a second car.
All well and good, except for this simple fact: electric cars ARE more expensive to buy. Expect to pay at least $10,000 over the sticker price of a similar gasoline-powered car. That’s why provincial governments in Ontario, Quebec and BC offer consumers generous rebates (up to $8,500) when they buy electric.
But not here in Newfoundland and Labrador. And there are no plans to start. Not even a whisper. Which you might find surprising. After all, we live in a province that describes itself as an energy warehouse. One with a power grid soon to be ranked among the cleanest in the world. Governed by politicians who are forecasting balanced budgets (oil revenues are on the rebound, remember?) and desperate to win public support.
And don’t forget our finance minister is uniquely qualified to connect the dots. Before Finance she was Environment Minister and before that she held the Innovation portfolio. But then again, why should Charlene Johnson offer consumers a break at taxpayers’ expense when John Gordon will do it for free?
While we’re at it, why should Nissan take the risk of marketing it’s all-electric Leaf in this province when that same guy, John Gordon, is happy to take the chance?
Which leads to this question: Who’s John Gordon?
He’s the public face of Green Rock E.V.S. (Electric Vehicle Solutions), a new company that sells used electric cars in St. John’s. He buys them in California and other markets that DO offer consumers cash rebates. Incentives that are factored in when calculating depreciation. So when Gordon buys a used Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt on the mainland and sells it in St. John’s, taxpayers in other parts of the world pay for the subsidy. Not you and me.
The big question is, will Newfoundland consumers buy a used Leaf from Green Rock when Nissan won’t sell one that’s new? John Gordon is betting they will.
Watch the video to find out why he’s willing to take the risk.