Should people who can afford to pay higher prices for new electric vehicles get their auto payments and electric fuel subsidized?
That is the question taxpayers should be asking in the wake of new developments in the creation and installation of electric charger stations.
Metro Vancouver Parks and the city of Port Moody are among the early adopters of the technology. They will be paying at least part of the capital cost of these charger stations -at taxpayers' expense - to encourage the use of electric vehicle technology.
While it's important to consider alternatives to gas-powered vehicles that create climate-changing greenhouse gases, it's doubtful taxpayer-subsidized fuelling stations will make that much difference.
For one, purchasing a new car is a costly investment and many people will balk at the higher cost of electric vehicles - and those who buy will be quite able to charge at home. As well, there are limited options available and only six cars are eligible for the full $5,000 point-of-sale incentive offered by the B.C. government.
Many people in the market for a new car are opting to purchase pre-owned vehicles or smaller gas-powered vehicles to keep costs down. They don't have the cash to shell out more for battery-powered cars that many fear are too new and too experimental. And while most drivers would like to do more to help the environment, it's only those who can most afford the new technology who are likely to purchase an electric vehicle as a curiosity or as a second or third car.
Should everyone else, then, subsidize their purchase and electric fuel?
The regional district plans to spend $64,000 setting up six to eight stations where electric vehicles can be plugged in while their owners enjoy a park visit; about half of that will be covered by the province's $2.74 million Community Charging Infrastructure Fund. In Port Moody, the city will pay about $16,000 for its share of four charger stations and $2,500 annually in operating costs.
In supporting the initiative, politicians argue that making electric vehicles more affordable and convenient will encourage their use. At best, that's wishful thinking. At worst, it's a subsidy for the few who can afford to pay for their own fuel.