All things environmental

Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

The Veva car show

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The VEVA electric vehicle show at Concord Pacific

The VEVA electric vehicle show at Concord Pacific

Yesterday, going on a bike ride along the seawall, Dinah and I took a look at the electric car show, the annual event organised by VEVA, the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association.

The hobbyists at work: electric Porsches and Minis

The hobbyists at work: electric Porsches and Minis

I’d first seen it maybe ten years ago. What a change! Then, it was mostly hobbyists: self-made wild and wonky wires sticking from under the hoods of old cars, and drivers who looked like crazy engineers. Now, if a few hobbyists are still there, it’s mostly assembly-line shiny cars (and bikes) and proud car owners.

We saw a whole herd of Nissan Leafs, a gaggle of Smart Electric, a Mitsubishi MiEv, as well as an electric truck from Canada Post (I’m guessing the post office is keen to show that there at least some things they can do right),a BMW, a Ford, and, of course, Teslas.

I spoke with a lady showing her Beamer, a nice i3 that she drives for commute between Maple Ridge and Surrey. No, she doesn’t have any range anxiety any more. Yes, it’s the most comfortable and fun car she’s ever driven. She made me realize that the main savings from these cars, though, is not what you save on gas; it’s the maintenance. There are very few moving parts; a check-up at the dealer consists of a fifteen minute hook-up to the computer. No oil change, no air filter, no timing chain…

All eyes were on the Teslas, but I talked to the lady with the Ford Focus. A fun car, she said; it may look unassuming, but it will leave a Camaro in the dust at a streelight, because the torque at low speed on elctric motors is so strong. (Few electric vehicle drivers ever do that, though; everyone drives so as to save power and extent the driving range.) But she wanted to make a statement, she said. Nobody ever brings a Focus to these events, she wanted to be the one. But that was an eye-opener, she said; all dealers wanted to show her regular models and steer her away from the electric model, which wasn’t in stock anyways. She eventually managed to track one down – but should we be surprised if the Big Three get left in the dust? More than one exhibitor said the same thing: there is a great reluctance to embrace the new technology among American manufacturers, who make their money on antiquated technology – pick-up trucks – and on after-sales service.

Two of the Teslas

A pair of Teslas

I asked the Ford owner whether she thought the range was a real limitation. “Oh, not a problem”, she said; “when we want to travel out of town, we take the other car. The Tesla over there.” “A Tesla? Really?” “Absolutely; once you’re used to an electric car, there’s no going back. It takes a bit of planning, sure; when we went down to San Diego, we checked in advance where the fast charging stations were. The Tesla S covers 400 kms easily, and who wants to drive much more than that distance in one shot, anyways.” Wow. But not everyone can do that; the Tesla retails at over $80K. She agreed, but with a sly smile added: “well, we did well. We were early believers in the technology, so we bought shares in the company when they came out. The profit we made on them paid for the car.” Wow, again.

Too late for me to do that, I suppose. But there was a leaf owner who had bought his on-line, second hand. Really? “Yup. I gave my specifications, this model comes from Utah, I saved maybe $10k. And I love the car; it’s barely two years old.”
It was difficult to leave the site without a renewed sense of optimism. Dinah is convinced that we’ll have our own electric car within five years; the Vancouver-Langley commute is something that they can all manage easily.

Looking at the BMW

Looking at the BMW

We finished our bike ride around Kits. There was an aggressive souped-up black Ram truck, all shiny and full of chrome and accessories, loudly belching diesel smoke. There were four young guys in there, all looking macho, bad-ass angry, but mostly tense because they couldn’t find parking (it was the afternoon before the fireworks). I hate to admit but the first word that came to mind was “douchebags.” Or, more charitably, poor naïve folks who go for chrome baubles and noisy toys, when the real value – and the superior way to impress chicks – was parked across English Bay in the form of electric cars. Ferrari? Pah. Tesla? Now you’re talking…


Written by enviropaul

July 27, 2014 at 6:02 pm

3 Responses

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    July 28, 2014 at 5:23 am

  2. Bile ride??

    Dinah Tiessen

    July 28, 2014 at 9:00 am

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    November 26, 2014 at 5:44 am

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