Power surge: electric vehicle numbers rise 50% in one year

While Chilliwack residents still prefer hybrids, Abbotsford drivers are increasingly choosing fully electric vehicles

By Tyler Olsen | July 27, 2022 |5:00 am

Abbotsford is adding electric vehicles at a greater rate than any other Fraser Valley city, though it Langley still has more gas-free cars.
Fully-electric cars are still relatively rare—they represent one in every 50 passenger vehicles on the valley’s roads. But their numbers are rapidly increasing, surging nearly 50% in 2021.

Across the region, the number of plug-in EVs has increased nearly 10-fold from 2016. Through 2021, 1,600 electric-powered vehicles were insured in the region. Such vehicles are most numerous in Langley, but every city has seen a dramatic increase. They’re now on pace to surpass hybrids next year.


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Power surge

Five years ago, electric vehicles were a novelty, with just 582 across the region. Drivers looking at greener vehicles were far more likely to buy a hybrid than a fully electric vehicle. Hybrids were still relatively rare, but they were nearly 10 times more common than plug-ins, with around 2,700 of them across the region.

Since then, the number of EVs has increased at a rapid rate in every Fraser Valley municipality.

ICBC figures analyzed by The Current give a clue as to where residents are more likely to go electric—a choice affected by income, price, commute, and the importance they place on reducing their carbon footprint. The choice is also affected by city planning decisions, like the availability of charging stations both within homes and near workplaces and shopping areas.

In Langley, electric-powered vehicles are now nearly as common as hybrids.

In general, both EVs and hybrids are harder to find further east in the Fraser Valley.

The pace of hybrid/electric uptake by Chilliwack and Abbotsford residents is similar, though there are differences. While Chilliwack residents have continued to favour hybrids, Abbotsford residents have embraced fully electric vehicles faster than their neighbours. Last year in Chilliwack, for instance, the number of insured hybrids increased by about 300, while the number of insured electric vehicles rose by about 230. Abbotsford, meanwhile, welcomed a staggering 620 new electric vehicles in 2021, compared to a more modest 400 hybrids.

In recent years, Langley, Chilliwack and Abbotsford have all revised their bylaws to require that builders of new single-family homes rough-in a charging station outlet. Doing so at the construction stage is far cheaper than retrofitting a home. Mission requires new multi-family buildings to have charging stations, but not new houses.

https://abbotsford.civicweb.net/filepro/document/55235/PDS%20004-2019%2C%20Proposed%20approach%20to%20CleanBC%20the%20BC%20Energy%20Step%20Code%20and%20Electric%20Vehicle%20Readiness.pdf
https://www.chilliwack.com/main/attachments/Files/1675/EV%20Charging%20Station%20Requirements.pdf

Sky-high gas prices would normally be expected to drive more people to switch to electric vehicles. But there’s a major challenge: the worldwide supply crunch in new cars. Purchasing a vehicle of any fuel source now often requires a down payment and months of lead time. But electric vehicles have been particularly hard hit.

At a time when gas prices are driving consumers toward vehicles that burn less (or no) gas, manufacturers have found themselves unable to build electric cars and trucks fast enough. In the US, those wanting to buy a new Ford electric truck are facing a three-year wait.
Demand for new vehicles would usually lead manufacturers to scale up their capacity. But there are both supply and worker shortages that have hobbled their ability to do so.

Join more than 25,000 other Fraser Valley residents by subscribing to our newsletter. Every weekday morning you’ll get a new feature story and other stories, news, and events from Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Mission and the rest of the valley. See a recent newsletter here.

Tyler Olsen

Managing Editor at Fraser Valley Current

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