© MIke Carson/Journal Pioneer
Sales representatives, left to right Muncy Harris, Eddie Shea, Leonard Gallant and Ryan MacNeil from Hemphill Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd in Summerside. display a Volt, one of the new EV’s available at the dealership, charging up. Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer.
SUMMERSIDE – Kent Rathwell and his company Sun Country Highway recently completed the longest system on high performance electric vehicle charging stations in the world.
He then organized and completed a cross-country journey for electric vehicle ending in Summerside last weekend.
What Rathwell accomplished was showing the public that electric cars are not only the wave of the future but are here right now, says Jeff Hemphill of Hemphill Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd of Summerside.
“An event like the E-mazing race serves a purpose in showing us all that this is indeed real, accessible and practical choice for the average Islander,” Hemphill said. This is not the Jetsons, or some future technology. It is real, beneficial and affordable to today's car owners.”
“There are lots of people driving around without the burden of gasoline expense in cars that are not just comfortable, but high performing,” he said. “Ask yourself what you could do with the cash you spend on gas now?”
Hemphill said the cross-country Canada race gave the public a true picture of the capabilities of the e-cars and the City of Summerside is taking advantage of this.
“I would think that this recent event allowed all of us to see that it's not unrealistic or futuristic,” he said. “It's here now and brought many EV owners to our city in September. And more will continue to come due to the city's initiative in having places for these vehicles to charge up.”
Hemphill said the cars are so efficient that sometimes the reality of its impact on the environment is forgotten.
“The Chevrolet Volt is priced around the $40,000 MSRP,” he said. “It's a fair price for a fully equipped large sedan. If you take a $5-600 per month payment, subtract the $250 or whatever you pay now for gas, and this car is in the budget of most car buyers. The $100,000 Tesla's are impressive engineering, but that doesn't represent the mainstream cars most of us would drive. We don't compare the Chevy Cruze to a Lamborghini.”
Hemphill said said battery size, capability and cost is getting better all the time.
Sun Country has played a major role in the growth of the e-car movement.
“Thanks in large part to sun country highways, the charger availability surpasses the vehicles currently,” Hemphill said. “We can drive from P.E.I. to B.C. without issue now.
But more impressive is that P.E.I. and Summerside now has the most EV chargers per capita in North America. It is a destination for the Electric Vehicle community. Once word gets out, we will see more visitors. It supports tourism, and our fresh, clean air of P.E.I. Not everybody has that at home.”
Hemphill said P.E.I. is ready to take a leading role in relation to electric vehicles.
“P.E.I. currently doesn't have the uptake of these new vehicles that Quebec has for example, and that might be a little disappointing but typical,” he said. “With the infrastructure in place now, we have no excuses to lag behind.”
“One other issue is the surprising lack of our provincial government support. With the introduction of the HST it effectively eliminated the former EV and hybrid tax credit from the province,” Hemphill said. “We and Sun Country have been making these advantages available to Islanders without their support. What an opportunity PEI has right now to share our gentle island, peaceful pace of life, and surely what must be some of the freshest air in the world with the rest of the earth, and capitalize on the tourism possibilities of this forward technology and thinking.”
Hemphill said Summerside continues to be a leader in development.
“Seriously, wind mills, aerospace parks and the most EV chargers per capita in North America - we're not making wagon wheels here,” he said.