The long road ahead for the electric-vehicle revolution – by Greg Keenan and Shawn McCarthy (Globe and Mail – February 10, 2018)

While politicians and industry leaders worldwide have created the impression that EVs are on the verge of replacing the internal combustion engine, it is not going to happen overnight

The electric vehicle capital of Canada is a small town in Quebec cottage country, some 95 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

The family-owned dealership of Bourgeois Chevrolet Buick GMC, located in Rawdon, Que., consistently ranks as the top seller of electric vehicles (EVs) in the country – both new and used versions of battery-only models such as the new Chevrolet Bolt and plug-in hybrids such as the Volt, which has a backup gasoline motor.

Last year, fully half the 1,000 cars and trucks that Bourgeois sold were EVs, whereas most Chevy dealerships around the country sell a couple each month on average.

To boost those sales, Bourgeois general manager and part-owner Hugo Jeanson makes sure he has a steady stream of inventory from the manufacturer, but also imports used models from the United States. Mr. Jeanson has also trained his sales representatives to know the vehicles and be able to answer customers’ concerns about price, range and performance.

A key marketing feature: Operating costs for EVs are considerably lower than for gas-powered vehicles, both in terms of fuelling and servicing. The dealership keeps electric vehicles as loaners for customers when their cars are being serviced.

And it has invested in public chargers – 25 slow chargers, which take several hours, and one fast charging station that can power up a vehicle in an hour. This year, Mr. Jeanson plans to add three fast chargers powered by solar panels.

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