VANCOUVER -- Manufacturing capacity and the lack of different models are restricting growth in electric vehicle (EV) sales, an EV advocate said during ElectraFest 2017 in Vancouver.
“One of the big barriers we’re finding in this region is actually getting vehicles on the streets is actually quite difficult,” said Brendan James, vice-president of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association (VEVA), the ElectraFest host.
“Dealerships will be allocated 20-25 models for the year and they’ll be sold in a couple of weeks. So there’s a lot of demand but we’re actually struggling to get models in here.”
Canada also is losing out to bigger EV markets such as California when it comes to the limited allocation of vehicles, James told Automotive News Canada at the association’s annual event on Saturday.
According to FleetCarma.com, 95 per cent of EVs, including battery and plug-in hybrid versions, sold in Canada are sold in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, the only provinces providing serious financial incentives for EV sales.
Canadian sales grew substantially in 2016, to just more than 11,000, up from about the 7,000 EVs sold in 2015. First-quarter 2017 sales have continued the upward trend, according to figures compiled by FleetCarma.
“Obviously, I think we could do better in every situation,” James said, but he was optimistic about the future.
“I think in the next couple of years I think we’re going to see a lot more growth,:” he said. “It definitely is accelerating very quickly, and as the prices of lithium ion cells comes down, we get more parity with gasoline vehicles and the market disruption is going to be quite apparent.”
James said he believes government incentives will no longer be necessary when EVs with powerful drivetrains and real-world range become price competitive with comparable conventional models.
But he conceded there’s not enough model choice beyond compact sedans.
“We do need different models and different model variety and I think that will come,” said James. “I think there’s a lot of pressure from the European market.”