Electric vehicle advocacy buds for Saskatoon man after Nissan Leaf purchase

Glenn Wright's goal for 2018 was to buy an electric vehicle. Now he finds himself acting as a bit of advocate, helping others overcome their misgivings.

Glenn Wright finds skepticism about electric vehicles, but touts car's environmental and economic benefits

Glenn Wright proudly poses with his Nissan Leaf as he charges up at one of the rare public charging stations in Saskatoon. (Submitted by Glenn Wright)

It's been a journey for Saskatoon's Glenn Wright.

Last year, Wright's goal was to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle — and now he finds himself acting as a bit of an advocate.

"People are so skeptical of these cars," Wright said in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

Wright is the proud owner of a Nissan Leaf, and the electric car is a conversation starter.

It's not just about the environment, it's about economics.- Glenn Wright

"I decided to put vinyl lettering in the back window that says 'electric car, saves $200 per month,' so it's not just about the environment, it's about economics," he said.

EVs still rare in Saskatchewan

Electric vehicle drivers in Saskatchewan are still rare. EVs are hard to find at the dealerships here, and there are not many of them out on the province's roads.

One organizer with SaskEV, a group of electric vehicle enthusiasts, thinks that is slowly changing.

Incentives can make a big difference.- Jason Cruickshank

"I think people are concerned about climate change and want to take action on it," said Jason Cruickshank.

"I also think people are intrigued by the new technology," 

It's the environment that led Cruickshank and his family to go electric. They decided to go with a Chevrolet Bolt.

Both Wright and Cruickshank have identified what they see as one major roadblock that is stopping people from making the switch to an electric vehicle — there are no financial incentives to go electric in Saskatchewan, and that keeps demand low.

That means even if you want an electric vehicle, it's hard to find them.

"Incentives can make a big difference in opening that up to more people who would like to buy these vehicles," said Cruickshank.

Quebec gives rebates to people who buy electric vehicles, and B.C. has announced it wants all new cars and trucks sold in the province to be zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

Not all roses with a Leaf

Anecdotally, according to Wright, there is a real need to overcome negative misconceptions about what it might be like to own and drive an electric vehicle in Saskatchewan. Wright said that people are not shy of sharing their misgivings.

"They are worried about running out of power, they are worried about cold weather, and they are worried about batteries dying."

So life with the Leaf is not all roses for Wright. For example, longer trips can be tough because there are few public charging stations for people to plug into.

The Cruickshank family — Emma, Jason and Alix, left to right — pose in front of their Chevrolet Bolt. They've driven it all the way to Edmonton and say it just takes a little more planning and preparation to go electric. (Submitted by Jason Cruickshank)

Cruickshank doesn't think that should stop anyone.

"It's nice to have but unless you are trying to do a longer trip, if you are visiting from another city, then [the charging stations] are not really necessary."

And, he said, highway trips are possible with a little more planning and some patience.

For example, his family took the Bolt to Edmonton, and simply took some time going bowling or swimming while they waited for the car to charge up.

With files from Saskatoon Morning