One-in-three British Columbians expect to buy an electric car as their next vehicle, but they’re going to have trouble finding one.

Despite the surge in interest, less than half of the dealerships in B.C. have any electric vehicles at all according to a new report from Clean Energy Canada.

The organization contacted over 300 dealerships and found that only 40 per cent of dealerships had even one electric vehicle on the lot.

“No one wants to wait a year to get an electric car — often without the option of even test-driving it first. Maybe that person waits, maybe they get a gas-fuelled car instead. At a time when we need to do more than ever to cut pollution and enhance affordability in this province, it’s an unacceptable situation for British Columbians who want to go electric,” said Clean Energy Canada policy director Dan Woynillowicz.

The study also found that customers who do go ahead and order an electric vehicle often find themselves on a long waitlist. Dealerships reported wait times of three months to a year and a half.

In Norway, one of the global leaders in electric vehicle adoption, fully electric cars now make up 45 per cent of new car sales and that number rises to 60 per cent when plug-in hybrids are included in the tally.

B.C.’s provincial government is currently developing a policy to boost the number of electric vehicles on the road. One option is to follow the lead of jurisdictions like Quebec and California which would require automakers to sell more EV’s in the province.

In California 6.2 per cent of new car sales are now electric but the number is just 3.5% in B.C..

B.C. is considering a mandate which would require electric vehicle sales of five per cent by 2020, 10 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.

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Order a Tesla Model 3. Last I heard, you get it in a few weeks. Plus then you have access to Supercharger infrastructure all over North America, while all the other car companies wait for the government to install charging systems on the public dime--not to mention many fast chargers at destination locations, provided by Tesla to hotel and shopping businesses. Tesla had the incredible foresight to use some of their earnings to invest in making it feasible to buy a Tesla and use it for all lengths of trips in most areas of the world, within a small number of years.

That's the real genius of Tesla. Not just a car, but also a solution to range anxiety. I laugh every time I see some auto expert claiming that some other competitor is on the verge of "eating Elon Musk's lunch". The other guys are miles and miles behind Tesla for feasibility of transitioning to EVs. Not even close. Availability of EVs is not a problem, when you buy from a company that only makes EVs, rather than a company that keeps hoping this is a passing craze, this concern about destroying our planet in the next decade, due to climate change.

This sounds suspiciously like an advertisement. I rather doubt that Tesla is so much more available than competitors' products like the best-selling Leaf.

Not an ad, just a satisfied customer, and someone very concerned about climate change and societal inaction. Suggest you contact Tesla and ask for their timelines but I’ve heard they are not lengthy. Ordered my Tesla 4 years ago, and it was delivered 4-5 weeks later, according to specs. There’s no cost to you to inquire.

Last I heard, Tesla Model 3 weren't even delivering to Canada yet because the US is ahead in line and they have an order backlog. Mind you, I think the Tesla naysayers overstate things--yes, Tesla has been having a few production bottlenecks. Complex manufacturing is HARD and IMO Musk underestimated the difficulty of going from a standing start to mass production in a short time. Technical ubergeeks have a tendency to underestimate the real world when they're coming up with cool ideas; schedules slip and costs are higher than expected. But I think it will get worked out in the end, and if you're a company then having massive amounts of orders to fill is the problem you want to have.
For now though, I don't think in Canada you're looking at short waits for Tesla model 3s.

I live in BC and got my Tesla Model 3 back in June. And love it! It has 500km of range, big-grin fun to drive, and with BC electricity it cuts climate pollution by 99%. So they've been delivering to Canada for months now. Don't know how long the current wait list is though. Reports are that it is pretty short if you order the high-end version like dual-motor or performance. They are prioritizing selling these.

In terms of production, Model 3 is flying off the assembly lines in huge numbers. It is already the best selling luxury car or sports car of any kind in USA. And by a ridiculously wide margin. Currently 90% of EVs sold in USA now are Teslas. It's the car everyone is choosing. If you've driven one you know why. Heck, it's the Model 3 has become the fourth best selling car (sedan) of any kind in USA and on current trends could be #1 next quarter.

How many Teslas end up in Canada will depend on how much Canadians prioritize getting them. Places like Norway and California offer up packages of high-value benefits. Norway skips the usual 100% sales tax on new vehicles and gives free access to ferries and bus lanes for example. California gives access to HOV lanes.

I’ve definitely been seeing them around town, so I don’t think there’s a priority given to US customers. They are more lightweight than the Model S, with a better battery, so have even better range than Model S, think about 500 km per charge. I haven’t priced one out but you could do that on their website according to preferred features. Main drag is just the exchange rate these days, which was way better 4 years or so ago. Might be closer to 5 years, now that I think of it, since we went electric.

I was going to buy an electric vehicle. But Ontario Premier Doug Ford cancelled the incentive program. I can't afford it now, I'll have to wait for a couple of years to finance it myself. Just like B.C., I cant find any electric vehicles at dealerships, except for a Nissan Leaf.

I bought a Chevrolet Bolt last Sunday and drove it 1,300 km from Vancouver to the Bulkley Valley. I had to wait six months and put down $500 to buy the car sight unseen. The local dealers looked at me with hate in their eyes when I asked them to order it for me. You get a $5,000 B.C. government rebate which basically covers the taxes. There was a B.C. program that offered some money when you scrapped a fossil fuelled vehicle at the same time, but that pot is empty. The drive took a bit longer than it would have taken in a gas vehicle, but that's entirely due to a lack of fast chargers north of Kamloops. The next one is in Prince George, which is 600 km. But I paid a grand total of $2.26 for fuel. So it can be done, but it's expensive to buy - the benefit of cheap operation takes a while to be realized.

Interesting. Thanks for posting the details. I met a few Bolt owners and they all seem to love their car. Good choice if you can get one.
We bought one of first plug-in Prius in BC five years ago and we also got the cold shoulder "you don't want to buy that" from the dealer. We had to insist repeatedly that we wanted it. They only had one and wanted it for their "greenery" on the showroom floor apparently. But they didn't want to sell any.
This June we traded up to a Tesla Model 3 and the experience couldn't have been different. It was a festive atmosphere, everyone from the staff to the customers were excited and having a good time. It was more like an Apple Store vibe than the usual dealer dentist vibe.
I sure hope for our climate's sake that traditional car dealers figure out a way to want to sell EVs like Tesla does. We need all cars to stop emitting climate pollution and soon. It's going to take all of us...

Co-incidentally, I'm expecting to pick up my Nissan Leaf on Saturday. But I did have to wait for months, nursing my current decrepit car along. And I was originally going to go with a VW e-Golf (mostly because it had more cargo space), but for that I would have had to wait until NEXT YEAR!

Suspiciously, dealers are very reluctant to get behind electric cars because, once bought, they'll hardly ever see them again in the shop. They haven't come to terms with that.

Just buy a Tesla. The wait on a custom order Model 3 is 2 months. Besides it's a better car by far than those electrics made by the conventional car makers. Their dealers are not interested in selling electrics because they don't need repair, which is where the dealers make their money, and the conventional car manufacturers can't make electrics at a profit, so they make only enough to be able to say they're in the electric market. Would you want to buy an electric from such a company, or such a dealer? I sure wouldn't.

Teslas are probably better cars, but they are a lot more expensive than their only real North American alternative, which is the Chevrolet Bolt. Buying this one stretched me to the limit. If we want to see broad penetration of EVs, price must be addressed.

Yes, Teslas cost more up front. The good news is that Tesla has cut the price in half with the new Model 3 compared to the Model S. The bad news is that it is still costs twice as much up front as a car like a Prius. We are saving thousands of dollars a year in fuel by switching from a Prius to a Model 3, but you still need the up-front $ to buy one. That's why regions that want the benefits of electric cars -- like cleaner city air, much less energy used, runs on locally-produced energy, far lower climate pollution, quieter and safer -- are putting together a package of incentives for their citizens to offset the higher up-front costs. Society is benefiting from each EV and some societies are helping to pay to get those benefits. Like Norway, where it costs people roughly the same amount to buy a Tesla as a Prius because of the benefits the govt has. They tax climate polluting cars a lot and use that to subsidize EVs. Because global demand far exceeds supply of EVs right now -- and will for a long time -- it will be the regions that put together the most attractive package that will get most of the EVs and thus most of the benefits. Econ 101.

Hang in there BC would-be EV drivers. With the disappearance of the Ontario EV purchase incentives, there should be lots of new OEM EVs coming your way as manufacturers reallocate Canadian EV allocation to BC and Quebec. Should be easier for most Asian companies who won't have to ship across the country to get to dealers.
Yes, there should be incentives for EV purchase. Right now we subsidize gasoline in Canada (in contravention of the Harper government commitment in 2009 to phase out ALL such subsidies for oil and natural gas) by about $1/litre. Over its life, a typical gas car will consume about 32,000 litres (20 years x 16,000 km/year x 0.1 litre / km), so that's a subsidy for gasoline of over $30,000 per car. That same fuel consumption will produce over 70 tonnes of CO2 (and other pollutants). If we value CO2 reduction at $100 a tonne (average over the next 20 years), that's a value of another $7,000. Not counting the health care impacts from reduced air and water pollution, reduced road maintenance (fewer oil and gasoline leaks onto asphalt roadways), reduced urban noise and waste heat being produced, we already have a financial case for almost giving away some of the lower end (pricing) EVs nominally available in Canada today.