The Electric Vehicle Discovery Tour came to Ashcroft on Aug. 15, and gave residents an opportunity to learn more about EVs and take a test drive in a Mustang Mach-E to see what electric vehicles are all about.
The tour was sponsored by the Community Energy Association and Charge North, which is moving ahead this fall with the installation of more than 50 Level 2 charging stations in two dozen communities across central and northern B.C. The Village of Ashcroft voted to join the program, and provide a portion of the funding for two stations, in February 2019.
The project was delayed while the remainder of the funding was found, and then further delayed because of COVID-19. However, each community now has the final site design and cost estimate, the equipment has been ordered, and electricians are ready to go, says Danielle Weiss, electric mobility expert at CEA and project manager for Charge North.
Weiss was in Ashcroft on Aug. 15 at the EV tour base: the parking lot outside the visitor information centre at the Heritage Park on Railway Avenue, where the two Level 2 chargers will be placed. She was joined by local EV owners in their vehicles, and says that there were two main purposes to the tour: to let residents and visitors in the participating communities know about the EV infrastructure that’s coming this fall, and to talk about resources for electric vehicles and offer test drives to people who’ve never been behind the wheel of an EV.
“At pretty much every stop we were non-stop busy,” she says. “We were doing test drives every 20 minutes the whole time. It was a good turnout, and we could have stayed longer everywhere and talked to even more people. It was a great opportunity for people to learn more.”
Common questions were about range; how much it costs to charge; if you can drive EVs in winter; and how long it takes to charge.
“Yes, you can drive them in winter,” Weiss says. “The range will decrease a bit at colder temperatures, but that doesn’t prohibit people driving EVs in winter.
“As far as range goes, you have to think about use. Do you drive around the community all day and are then at home overnight? If you don’t use up more than your range allows, no problem. Most people do 99 per cent of their driving within 60 kilometres of home, and drive less than 160 kilometres per day, so EVs could definitely work the majority of the time. In situations where it doesn’t work, maybe you use another vehicle. And do you need to own that vehicle, or can you car share?”
She adds that as more charging infrastructure gets deployed and more EVs are rolled out, there will be as much take-up in rural communities as there is in cities, particularly as the auto industry begins making more electric SUVs and pickup trucks.
“The electric F-150 Lightning is on the market, and Chevrolet has announced its intention of having a 2024 truck to market. Manufacturers have seen that interest [in electric trucks] and production will follow.”
The Charge North project is focused on economic development and tourism in the communities where the chargers will be placed.
“We intentionally site them near local businesses and tourist amenities, so that when people are charging at your station you get that exposure,” says Weiss.
“We heard from a business owner in Golden, after we sited a charger in the community and not on the highway. She said she’s seen a boon to her business, and heard from people who had never been into Golden before the charger was there. They learned about her business and others, and now make it a place to stop on a routine journey. We’d like to see that play out throughout these networks.”
To learn more about the project, go to www.ChargeNorth.ca.