Don’t tell Nanaimo, B.C., dealer principal Dave Bare that the 2035 federal deadline for selling 100 per cent zero-emissions vehicles is too far down the road to bother with. Harris Kia is installing EV charging stations now.
When asked about his top priorities, whether providing charging for customers who have none, charging up a demo fleet or being able to return a car fully charged after service, Bare doesn’t hesitate.
“All of the above.”
As the automotive industry moves away from internal-combustion, Canadian dealers and their automakers are gearing up, installing chargers, and preparing technicians for servicing EVs.
For Bare, the future is now, especially on Vancouver Island where there’s a “tremendous” amount of interest in electric vehicles. He currently has five chargers, and two are coming.
“In fairness, we live in the perfect environment for electric vehicles, we’re not too hot, not too cold,” he said.
British Columbia is ahead of the curve with the highest EV-adoption rates in the country. In 2021, zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) accounted for 13 per cent of all light-duty vehicle sales in the province, according to statistics compiled by IHS Markit. That compares with 5.6 per cent across Canada and 9.5 per cent for second-place Quebec.
A contributing factor to B.C.’s lead is that the provincial government implemented stepped sales mandates in 2019: 10 per cent of light-duty vehicle sales by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040. Also a factor is the provincial rebate of up to $3,000 per battery-electric vehicle.
Bare is wasting little time. Two of the five chargers — all 240-volt Level 2 — are in the guest parking are and are powered around the clock. EV drivers are welcome to pop in for a free charge.
Another charger is located in the service drive-through to charge the electric customer shuttle, and two are in the service department.
The two on the way will be added to the parking lot, bringing that total to four. One is what Bare calls a “Level 2.5,” which Kia Canada says charges four times faster than a Level 2 unit.
GROWTH DRIVING CHANGE
Installing charging stations also is priority at the under-construction Toronto Hyundai and Genesis Yorkdale dealership combination, owned by Marsim Auto Group, which has three dealerships in the Greater Toronto Area. And the number keeps rising.
“When we [began the project] two years ago, it might have been maybe a total of five charging stations,” said Marsim Vice-President Rick Blacker.
“And now . . . I think I’m up to 15 right now and I’m roughed in for 25, so yeah, it has totally changed.”
By the time Toronto Hyundai and Genesis Yorkdale opens in December of 2023, “we’re going to have two or three, possibly four Genesis electric vehicles and we’re going to have a handful of Hyundai vehicles.
“So, we’re going to need [the chargers]. It’s just going to happen.”
Blacker said the 480-volt Level 3 chargers cost about $68,000 each and Level 2 chargers cost about $35,000 each. That doesn’t include installation. He’s hoping prices fall by the time the dealership needs them.
“I don’t want to put them all in right away because of the pricing.”
Providing power for them is proving to be a challenge, he said. The Level 3 units require 600-volt lines into the dealership and then a transformer to step that down to 480-volt, three-phase AC power.
“That’s kind of where I’m stuck at the moment, likely only [will] be two Level 3 chargers and the rest will be Level 2 until this gets figured out.”
Genesis Canada spokesman Dustin Woods said the company plans to be 100 per cent electric by 2030, with its first EV, the GV60, due this spring.
“We have received significant interest and many pre-orders already.”
He said the 30 Genesis Retail Experience locations in Canada will have dedicated service bays for EVs.
In the case of Hyundai Auto Canada, the brand is rolling out extensive training for dealerships. It goes beyond the technical — which includes safely repairing vehicles with 600-volt batteries — to cover all the aspects of managing an evolution to an EV-dominated marketplace.
“It’s not just how the vehicles are built, but also how we conduct business with customers,” said Ata Nourozifar, manager for Hyundai Performance Academy, the company’s training division.
“More than 90 per cent of our dealers have completed or are near completion of the EV certification.”
Nourozifar said the standards for EV certification are set based on the dealership’s volume. There are minimum requirements for the number of technicians certified to repair EVs, the number of Level 2 and Level 3 charging stations as well as training to sell EVs.
Kia Canada declined to elaborate on its EV training programs, but spokeswoman Jen Szmilko said the network of EV-certified Kia dealers continues to grow. The program includes training, EV-specific tools and equipment to get up to speed on electrification. Of Kia’s 197 dealers in Canada, 90 are EV-certified.