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Getting a charge out of electric vehicles

The setup of electric charging stations are outpacing sales of electric vehicles in Chilliwack. But that doesn’t deter believers in the electric car revolution.

EV charging stations are popping up all over town with determination. The Fraser Valley Regional District went online Friday with two charging stations at their Cheam Avenue office. The City of Chilliwack chargers at City Hall and the Tourism Centre launched about two weeks ago. In total, there are at least 14 public charging stations in Chilliwack, including four Level 1 slow-charge stations at University of the Fraser Valley, and others at various electric car dealerships, according to PlugShare.com. Buyers of plug-in cars also frequently purchase their own Level 2 quick chargers for home.

This is despite the fact that as of Dec. 31, 2012, there were only a handful of electric vehicles insured in Chilliwack, according to ICBC. There may have been more EVs purchased since then, and vehicles purchased in Chilliwack may be insured elsewhere.

Provincially, there were 285 EVs insured, and B.C. is aiming to have 600 quick chargers soon.

Chilliwack resident Paul Bernard was the third person in Canada to purchase the all-electric, battery-only Nissan Leaf, back in Oct. 2011. The Sardis Secondary School teacher is a self-proclaimed car guy and technology nut who wanted to do something positive for the city’s environment.

“It’s a fantastic way to get around,” he says. “We don’t miss the gas-powered car.”

Bernard says the transition from a gas engine, to an electric, was “seamless.” He’s only waiting for more quick charging stations so that he can travel further in a day.

“It’s like the first gas-powered cars, that existed a hundred years ago. Your average citizen will look at this thing, ‘Well, where are you going to drive it? You can’t go anywhere, there’s no gas stations, there’s no paved roads. I have my horse, and that works great,'” says Paul.

Infrastructure came slowly but surely then, and Paul believes we’re at another transportation turning point now.

“There’s a real pioneering phase to the whole thing, because we’re seeing the same transition happening.”

Paul and wife Sharon have already put 21,000 kilometres on the car. Although ideal for short-distance commuting, their Leaf can just make it to Vancouver on a single charge. On a Level 2, 240-Volt charger, it takes about 8 hours to re-power.

But most daily driving is within 60 kilometres, according to recent studies. The Leaf’s range has been plenty for primary driver Sharon. She easily completes her daily errands, and when she gets home in the evening, her routine is to plug the car into the home quick charger for the night.

“I never think about fueling,” she says. “People think they drive a lot, but they really don’t.”
Mtheprogress.com

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