A 600 watt microwave on sale in February 1978 for $349.98 ($1,543 in today’s dollars). You can now get a 1,000 watt microwave for $134.99 in today’s dollars, which goes to show how new technology tends to come down in price as it becomes more common. There’s no reason to think the same thing won’t happen with electric vehicles. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> archives)

A 600 watt microwave on sale in February 1978 for $349.98 ($1,543 in today’s dollars). You can now get a 1,000 watt microwave for $134.99 in today’s dollars, which goes to show how new technology tends to come down in price as it becomes more common. There’s no reason to think the same thing won’t happen with electric vehicles. (Photo credit: Journal archives)

The Editor’s Desk: The future looks bright

As electric vehicle use increases, more folks will be stopping — and dropping money — in our communities

One of the knocks against electric vehicles (EVs) is their high cost when compared with many gas-powered vehicles. It’s led to an impression that EVs are only for the well-off, and that they’re simply beyond the means of many people, with an underlying implication that such will always be the case.

I had occasion to be searching through 1978 issues of the Journal recently, and came across several full-page ads for Woolco (now there’s a blast from the past). The store was having a housewares and home furnishing sale, and among the deals on offer was a 26” RCA “100% Solid State Color” console TV set for $649.96.

Bear in mind that price is in 1978 dollars. In today’s dollars, that’s $2,866, and in 2022 no one is paying that much for a 26” TV. Best Buy has 24” flat screen TVs starting at $98.99; for $649.99 today you can purchase a high definition flat screen smart TV that would put that RCA console to shame.

That same 1978 ad had a 600 watt microwave on sale for $349.98, which works out to $1,543 today (you can pick up a 1,000 watt microwave now for $134.99). The first videocassette recorder I ever saw, around 1980, had a price tag then of $1,500 (around $6,600 today). The last time I bought a VCR was around 10 years ago, when it was $49.99.

The point is that when new technology is introduced, it’s expensive, and often beyond the reach of most people. As time goes by, however — as technology improves and demand increases — the prices go down, and there is little reason to think that EVs will be an exception to this rule. Indeed, we’ve already seen the prices of basic EV models decrease from what they were just a few years ago, a trend that will almost certainly continue.

Another knock against EVs is the infrastructure — that is, the charging stations — needed to fuel them. I’ve seen no shortage of knocks against the Tesla charging station in Cache Creek, for example, with snarky comments along the line of “I’ve never see more than one vehicle at a time charging up there; why do they need eight chargers?”

It’s worth a gentle reminder that this station only went in last summer; a summer that saw very little in the way of traffic around these parts due to a variety of factors, one of which was the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway through the Fraser Canyon for several weeks following the fire in Lytton on June 30 (and a two-month closure following the flooding in November). In the absence of people travelling through this region, it’s hardly surprising that the charging station did not see a lot of use.

One person who did use it was a blogger named Stacey Robinsmith, who recently published an article about a trip he made in his Tesla through the Interior earlier this year. I’ve long held that one of the prime benefits of having an EV charging station (or two or three) in your community is the economic spin-off from people using it, who will find something to do in your town while their vehicle charges.

Robinsmith wrote: “We got to Cache Creek with more than enough battery capacity to continue on to Kamloops without having to stop and charge, but me being new to the EV life, I insisted on stopping and charging the car. And of course the Tesla supercharger is located very close to Hungry Herbie’s so … burger time! We ate our burgers (love the Herbie Burger and fries at Hungry Herbie’s!) and charged for less than half an hour before continuing our trip through Kamloops.”

One driver does not an economic boom make, but when you factor in all the other people who will be stopping at that charging station — and how many more of them there will be as EV prices continue to drop — a rather bright picture starts to emerge. Let’s get behind it, rather than knock it.



editorial@accjournal.ca

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