By Tim Kalinowski on January 12, 2018.
Local car dealers are predicting huge growth in electric vehicle sales in Medicine Hat in the next five years.
“There is a potential there we are interested in, and there is more and more hype about it,” acknowledges Murray Chevrolet Cadillac fleet manager Gail Halderman. “All the major car companies have said they are going to have electric vehicle offerings. In fact, Chevrolet is going to have 20 new electric vehicles in the next five years. I personally think we should get at it as a dealership, because it seems sometimes when you are the first in you’ve got a bit of an advantage.”
While Chevrolet has only sold 23,000 units of its “Bolt” electric vehicle line in North America to date, Halderman says there is significant interest despite those modest sales figures.
Some of the limiting factors in the electrical vehicle market in models like the Bolt only have about a 300 km charge range, and are about $10,000 more in value than a similar sized gas-powered vehicle. He also cites a relative lack of electric charging stations locally and nationwide. But still, Halderman is confident the electric vehicle is a product whose time has come.
“You can’t get around it,” he says. “It is coming, for sure.”
Southland Volkswagen owner Bob Aaltonen agrees wholeheartedly.
“The market is at its infant stages in our area, but I think it is going to become the way of the future,” says Aaltonen. “In other areas across the country where there is incentives on electric cars, they have already seen tremendous growth in electric vehicle sales. In our particular area, we are a little behind in that respect.”
Aaltonen says it really is up to local dealers to lead the way for this growing market, and that’s why Southland VW is putting its money where its hopes are.
“We are just in the process of setting our electric car program up for Volkswagen, and we’ll be offering our electric ‘Golfs’ later this year,” he says. “Volkswagen as a company will be offering a platform of three or four electric vehicles by 2020. They foresee huge growth in that area, and I think they are right.”
Southland VW will also be building two new charge stations at its Medicine Hat lot to support industry growth in the local area.
Aaltonen, like Halderman, acknowledges the limitations on current vehicle range. He believes the government of Alberta has an important role to play in helping to grow electric vehicle infrastructure in all areas of the province.
“I have talked to the NDP government quite a few times, and they are talking about infrastructure for charging,” states Aaltonen. “But I think they should also be talking about incentives for consumers. In B.C., Ontario and Quebec that has played a huge role in getting people to adopt their first electric vehicles; as it has in other areas of the world. I think if we did that we would see tremendous growth in use of electric vehicles.”
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