With hundreds of charging stations being installed across the province, including the London region, Cara Clairman sees 2017 as the year electric vehicles make the big breakthrough.
“We are seeing an awakening. . . . It is not going to turn around,” said Clairman, president of Plug’n Drive, an independent citizens’ group promoting electric vehicles.
Plug’n Drive has been promoting electric vehicles for eight years. Clairman sees two big factors making this year the breakthrough year.
One is new plug-in electric models with the range of gas vehicles hitting the market, including the moderately priced Chevy Bolt that boasts a 380-kilometre range and the Tesla 3 at 346 kilometres.
Another is the charging infrastructure being put in place that will allow people to take longer road trips with their electric vehicles.
Fear of not being able to charge their vehicle on the road has been a major factor in limiting electric vehicle sales, Clairman said.
“Up to last year the best range on an all-electric vehicle in a moderate price range was about 150 kilometres. That is great for a lot of people but it makes people worried,” she said.
“Plenty of us would be totally fine with that smaller-range vehicle, but we believe somehow that we are going to need more.”
Electric vehicles are still a small fraction of the North American vehicle market, but sales have doubled each year for the past several years in Canada. It’s expected final sales figures for 2016 across Canada will be close to 30,000 vehicles.
Navigant Research, an international research company, predicts annual plug-in electric vehicle sales in North America will exceed 1.1 million by 2024.
In a bid to promote the technology, the Ontario government last summer announced it’s spending $20 million to build almost 500 electric vehicle charging stations in partnership with 24 companies and hosted at spots such as Tim Hortons, McDonald’s and Ikea. The charging stations are scheduled to be in operation by the end of March.
Under the program seven public charging stations will be installed in London, adding to the eight stations already in operation in the city.
Other charging stations in the London area are planned for Stratford, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Strathroy, Sarnia and Chatham.
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