EV industry charges ahead as N.L.'s newest all-electric dealership opens

An electric car plugged into the Galway charging station. The island-wide network is officially online as of August 2021. (Lukas Wall/CBC - image credit)
An electric car plugged into the Galway charging station. The island-wide network is officially online as of August 2021. (Lukas Wall/CBC - image credit)
Lukas Wall/CBC
Lukas Wall/CBC

The province took another step toward its green energy transition Monday, as a new all-electric car dealership opened its doors in St. John's.

The opening coincides with the completion of the 14-station cross-island electric vehicle charging network earlier this month.

Jeff Farwell, general manager of All EV Canada on Kenmount Road, says he was "wowed" by the interest in battery-powered cars.

"Since we've been here, it's been non-stop," he said Monday. "Citizens are ready for a transition."

A cleaner, greener future

Ottawa is pushing for widespread electric vehicle adoption to meet its greenhouse gas commitments: cutting emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

A quarter of the country's emissions come from transportation — and half of that from gas-guzzling cars and light trucks, according to Transport Canada.

To this end, incentives have been offered at both the federal and provincial levels: the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles Program introduced in May 2019 offers up to $5,000 toward an electric car purchase, while Newfoundland and Labrador's rebate program offers another $2,500.

David Laughlin/CBC
David Laughlin/CBC

There were just under 200 electric cars registered in the province at the end of 2020, according to the provincial motor registration division, but that's a number Farwell expects will climb very soon

"We think overall the sector is huge for growth, not just in St. John's and Newfoundland, but all throughout Canada and in the US," Farwell said. "Mainstream adoption has not taken place yet, but we see the growth in our sales."

The dealership offers education for prospective converts, including in-person information sessions, since prospective buyers typically have questions about range, charge times, and costs relative to gas-powered vehicles.

"We understand this is a different car purchase for people," Farwell said. "People need to understand the benefits.They have to understand how they drive, how they react differently. And so that's why we started our company as educators first."

The times they are a-chargin'

Jon Seary, co-founder of EV advocacy group Drive Electric N.L., says he's "delighted" to see the green energy transition is well underway.

"It's very important as more and more people realize that driving electric makes sense here in the province," he said. "It saves a lot of money over the cost of using gasoline-fuelled vehicles and all the maintenance that comes with them. People want to drive electric. There's more and more people all the time looking to do that."

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

Seary said the completion of the charging network constituted a "critical step" in the province's green-energy shift.

He's also seen a "huge" change in how people in the province view electric vehicles.

"A year and a half ago, the questions were still, why would you want to do that?" he said. "Now, other questions are, what's available out there, which dealerships have them, and if I do a long trip, where can I charge?"

Seary sees that gradual acceptance as the start of a new paradigm.

"In 1995 people would laugh at you if you said that you would use your phone to book a plane ticket or listen to music. Well, now look where we are," he said.

"And it's exactly the same type of adoption curve that's going to happen. So it would be nice that we're ready for it."

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