Vancouver commits $3M to expand electric vehicle ecosystem
'We expect there will be big growth, we know that people want these vehicles,' says sustainability specialist
In order to meet its goal of being the world's greenest city by 2020, Vancouver approved a new electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem strategy Wednesday, committing $3 million to bring more EV charging stations to the city over the next five years.
Those stations will supplement the 78 that are already in place around the city.
"We have the good beginnings of a network," City of Vancouver sustainability specialist Ian Neville told CBC On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.
"The idea is to get that started now. We expect there will be big growth, we know that people want these vehicles," he said.
'Chicken and egg conundrum'
Neville says the plan targets drivers who have considered buying an electric vehicle, but held off because of barriers like slow charging speeds or the lack of ability to charge at home.
"It's important because ... in order to have an electric vehicle, you've got to charge it somewhere," he said.
Neville describes a "chicken and egg conundrum": without very many electric cars on the roads, it's not too attractive to build charging stations, but without readily available charging stations, buying an electric car is less attractive.
He says with the addition of the new stations, the city will help combat that problem, especially since the vast majority of them will be fast-charging hubs.
Quick jolt, but at a price
The current stations, which can be found in parking lots and roadsides across Vancouver, provide around 30 kilometres of range for one hour's worth of charging.
Plug In BC claims the fast-charging stations can charge up to 80 per cent of a vehicle's capacity in 20 minutes.
But whereas the chargers already in place are free to use, fast-charging hubs will cost 35 cents for every kilowatt hour of use.
For reference, that would translate into a $21 fee to fully charge a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt; that amount of power would allow you to drive from Vancouver to Kelowna without stopping, according to the car's claimed maximum range.
Neville projects with the fee, the new infrastructure plan will pay for itself within five to seven years.
He also hopes it will persuade businesses to allow charging stations on their property.
Growing the EV market
"Down the road, we do want to find a way for businesses to get involved, and so we need to develop a business case for [hosting charging stations]."
To do that, they'll need to find a way around the B.C. law that prohibits anyone but BC Hydro and other permitted sellers from charging for electricity.
Neville hopes a growing market will speed that change.
"With the growth rates that we're expecting, by the mid 2020s, we'll go from about 1,000 EVs in Vancouver now, to about 30,000, and BC Hydro's expecting 300,000 in the province by 2030."
With files from On The Coast