By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: June 16, 2012
Dave Heywood thought he was looking at the future when he saw the ad in a Kamloops paper.
It urged people to test drive an electric car at a local mall.
Heywood went for the ride, liked the car, and vowed to buy one.
The year was 1982, and the electrical car was being promoted as a car of the future.
For Heywood, that future came this April when he bought his first electric car, a Nissan Leaf.
“I have always thought of buying an electric car,” he says.
As he plugged the charger to his swanky new car, Heywood spoke excitedly about why he thinks the electric car might be the best commuter car out there.
“It costs me just $1.80 for a round trip to North Vancouver and back,” he said.
Compare that to what he spent every month driving his Subaru to North Vancouver: $600.
The brand new car cost him $33,000, but he says it’s worth every penny.
“I think if a family owns two vehicles, one of them should be an electric car,” he says.
It takes about four-and-a-half hour to charge the battery, and a fully charged one can be driven for 160 kms.
By the time he is back in Squamish from his job, Heywood still has charge left for 20 km.
Even though there are two recharging stations in North Vancouver, he doesn’t really need to recharge.
But if he goes over the Lions Gate Bridge, he has to stop at one of the 12 charging stations in downtown Vancouver.
There is no cost for charging, but he has to pay for the parking.
He concedes that it can be a hassle for some commuters.
That isn’t the only practical problem an owner might encounter.
Where you live might be another. Squamish is at the very edge of where it might be reasonable to buy an electric car.
If you live further up from Squamish, even a few kilometres up the Paradise Valley, you might find yourself staring anxiously at the dashboard when commuting.
Heywood hopes this handicap could be fixed by installing more charge stations across the region, and the province.
“I think that is one reason why they haven’t been as popular as they should be,” he said.
In November last year, B.C. government announced a $17 million incentive program to encourage people to buy clean-energy vehicles.
The government offered $5,000 off the sticker price of green vehicles, and Heywood used that offer.
Funding has also been announced for regional districts, municipalities, First Nations, businesses, public institutions and other organizations to purchase and install one or more charging stations in BC.
Heywood said the electric car has yet to gain full acceptability in public eyes, but rising gas prices might help open eyes.
His co-workers sometimes joke about his new electric vehicle. Someone said he should keep a generator in the trunk. Another said he should have some squirrels so he could use them to generate some charge if his battery ran out.
“I tell them I’m the one laughing all the way to the bank, and I’ll be the one having the last laugh,” he says.