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Avoid 'fossil fuel-ishness', says electric vehicle guru

Electric vehicles provide a clean, stable alternative to internal combustion engine cars.

J-M Toriel is the founder and president of Big Green Island Transportation, based in Vancouver, J-M strives to spark new approaches to greening energy in BC.

It’s easy to slag the problems associated with cars and trucks: pipelines, tar sands, climate, spills, air pollution, loss of arable land... the list is long and you’ve heard it before. The real work is on shifting away from the real problem: the internal combustion engine (ICE). 
Plug-inswhich include electric vehicles [EVs] and plug-in hybrids [PHEVs]— should not be referenced the same way as 'cars,' as they do not have the same impacts associated with fossil fuels.
Let’s look at the facts:
  •  Record new car purchases from 2014 indicate an increase in reliance on cars as the primary source of personal mobility in Canada despite higher gas prices for that year over previous years.
  • Expect that trend to continue and increase with significantly lower gas prices.
  • Efficiency is the key — this translates into better propulsion or more distance for same amount of energy.
  • Electricity is STILL cheaper than gas, remains stable and is about 94% renewable in BC, so a much cleaner source.
  • In the context of BC and Metro Vancouver, our public transit is already insufficient to meet current demand, inefficient and in dire need of an upgrade. Having lived in a number of cities in North America, Europe and Asia, it pales in comparison.
  • Car-sharing demand has increased significantly — this is positive and indicates that younger demographics cannot afford buying a new car as young as they did in the past for a variety of reasons — higher debt, lower incomes/wages, affordability challenges, etc. The cleaner these vehicles, the better.
  • Environmental groups have long advocated for getting cars off the roads — here in Vancouver we are fortunate that this was a well-fought battle that discouraged Highway expansion at a time where most metropolises in North America were clamouring to 'carbon' copy the L.A. model — resulting in smog and EPA regs that helped bring the EV into fruition. Tailpipe emissions can be eliminated (with EVs) and most of these groups recognize the advantages of cars without tailpipes — especially when mounting climate warming is considered. Let’s also not forget the billions spent on health care due to respiratory illnesses.
  • Car-pool or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) access would lessen congestion — especially while we await construction of more and better transit. With a 'yes' result in the upcoming referendum, we’re still about a decade away.
  • In the near future, plug-in vehicles will have the ability to provide power back to the grid at peak demand in the same way that PV solar can lessen the demand with grid-tied installations. Instead of building Site C dam to enable natural gas companies to liquefy their product and send it somewhere else (though I doubt the industry has a chance at this point), we should be focused on decentralizing our grid with small-scale projects. Either way, plug-ins are not the problem, but part of the solution.
  • Most importantly, if the car remains a significant part of our lives with regards to transportation, what cars would we rather see on the roads?… If you answer more F150 pick-ups, then keep with the status quo. This must change and supporting plug-ins has never been more important.

So the next time you hear someone diss the car, set them straight. It’s not so much the car itself, but what’s propelling it. The longer we burn fossil fuels to meet our transportation needs, the longer the problems associated will exist and worsen. Now is the time to divest from fossil-fuelishness and invest in a more stable and cleaner future.


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