Just days after the Canadian company Sun Country Highway announced 10 of the 90-amp stations would soon be up and running across the Island, Summerside’s Hemphill GM has already sold its first electric car, the Chevrolet Volt.
The dealership’s sales manager, David Heckbert, said having the charging infrastructure in place was only one piece of the puzzle in bringing vehicles like the Volt to the Island.
“You actually have to apply to be come a franchisee to sell Volts, and you have to have technicians trained to service them prior to getting General Motors to allow you to have a franchise,” he explained.
“There’s quite an investment in the tools as well… so we did make that investment.”
There will be a test-drive event for the Volt this Saturday at the dealership from 1 to 3 p.m.
Eight of the new charging stations, placed strategically across the Island, are now ready for cars to plug in, including one at Summerside’s city hall.
That’s in addition to several lower-voltage stations that have been in place for some time at Credit Union Place and the tax centre. Even the Bottle Houses in Cap-Egmont installed a station as part of a tourism initiative.
Sun Country Highway is similarly installing its chargers across Canada, which it hopes will ease the worry of electric car drivers concerned about making it to the next station.
The Volt itself features an onboard gas generator, which provides extra power and driving time if the battery runs low.
Despite the cost of bringing in electric vehicles to some smaller dealerships, Heckbert said they were confident the investment was a sound one.
“We truly feel that this is where the future’s going as fossil fuels become harder and harder to come by,” he said. “The federal government put in charging stations at all their offices across the country – the (Summerside) GST centre has several of them up there – so when you get the governments pushing it, the only hold back in the past has been the range of an electric vehicle.
“Now with the extended range of the batteries, and ours having the onboard generator, you don’t have to worry about how far you’re going to go before you come home to plug it in again.”
Heckbert added that the range of customers interested in the Volt has been surprising: from taxi and delivery drivers looking to cut fuel costs, to carpoolers who want better mileage for their buck.
“The possibilities are really endless when you think about it,” he said. “We don’t foresee them being a huge-volume vehicle right away, especially on P.E.I.
“People like to have their neighbour buy one first and see how they like it.”