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Car charge stations don’t spark surge of traffic

Electric vehicles still occupy only a tiny portion of automobile market
The electric vehicle charging station at Ross Street Plaza saw 250 visits in 2018. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Electric cars are not surging into Salmon Arm, despite welcoming innovations in town.

The city’s electric vehicle charging station in the Ross Street Plaza – officially called a DCFC (Direct Current Fast Charging) Station – has been used nine times so far this year. Throughout 2018, it was used about 250 times, report city staff.

However, it’s not the only charging station in town. Those publicized include one at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College, one at the Co-op Gas Bar, two at the Comfort Inn & Suites (one Tesla, one regular), one coming to the Petro Canada gas station and a Tesla charger at the Hilltop Inn, formerly the Podollan Inn.

Jolene Lamarsh, Hilltop Inn manager, says hotel owner Ming Zhang from Vancouver drives a Tesla so he was likely keen to have a charger. At the Comfort Inn and Suites, staff say they don’t keep track of how often their chargers are used, but “every so often.”

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Salmon Arm Chamber of Commerce Manager Corryn Grayston says over the last year the Visitor Centre had four people stop in regarding their electric cars.

“We get the odd person asking about the car charging stations. I think for the most part they are pretty savvy about this and map out their routes beforehand on where the stations are located.”

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Hybrid and electric cars don’t appear to be a booming commodity for car dealerships in Salmon Arm.

In terms of hybrids, Troy Blais, sales manager at Hilltop Toyota, says they’ve been around for a while and the dealership sells about 10 a year. He’s not sure how many residents make out-of-town purchases, as he’s noticed that hybrid buyers tend to shop around for a long time.

As for ‘plug-ins,’ he says the Prius Prime came out last year and the dealership sold three. 

“It’s a very, very small part of the market,” he says of electric cars in general.

Over at Salmon Arm GM, owner Ian Gray says his location doesn’t carry the Chevy Bolt, but it is available in other towns in the region. His dealership does service three electric vehicles - a Cadillac, a Bolt and a Volt.

In B.C., he says, electric cars make up less than one per cent of the market.

Looking at the evolution of the electric car, Gray compares it to the stages of movie players. He sees the current stage as the Beta stage – he expects the product will evolve in the future while prices will drop.


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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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