August 8, 2019

The Iconic VW Van Returns – Electrified!

One of the world’s most iconic vans is making a comeback…

But this time, it’s electric. Slated for production by 2022, the “electric microbus” is one of five new electric models in Volkswagen’s ID. series — a family of 100% electric vehicles, which includes a crossover, a compact, a sedan, and of course, the van.

Just like the classic VW van, there will be room for up to seven people with an adjustable interior that includes a table and movable seats. Volkswagen also intends on enabling all ID. series models with a fully autonomous feature option.

Distance, a major concern of many when it comes to purchasing an electric vehicle, is no longer an issue. The van will have an electric range of 400 to 600 km, comparable to pretty much any gas-powered vehicle. Further, Volkswagen has partnered with Electrify Canada (partnership formed by Electrify America in cooperation with Volkswagen Canada) to build ultra-fast electric vehicle charging infrastructure to give Canadians the reliability they need to confidently make the switch to electric. Planning and deployment are well underway, including network routes — you can check out the Vancouver to Calgary route here.

While the price is currently unknown, a point of reference may be offered by the current retail price of Volkswagen’s e-Gulf, of which starts at $36,000 CAD.

With the news of this release, I couldn’t help but think: what if other companies brought back electrified versions of cool old favourites? Would this help incentivize at least some of the drivers who are reluctant to give up their gas powered vehicles for electric?

For example, what if mainstream car companies responsible for the creation of classics like the Dodge Charger or Ford Mustang offered an electric model? With Ford planning to release a hybrid Mustang, this concept may not be too far off.

Cool-factor aside, there are other emerging incentives to encourage the purchase of electric over gas, including recent Federal and Provincial (BC) tax rebates offered to those who’ve purchased new electric vehicles. Federal incentives include a rebate of up to $5,000 (ranging from $2,500 for short-range vehicles, to $5,000 for long-range vehicles). To qualify, vehicles must have a retail value of $45,000 or less (base model), with higher values qualifying when the vehicle has more than seven seats

Provincial incentives include rebates of up to $3,000 based on vehicle type and battery capacity. Battery electric, fuel cell, and plug in hybrids above a 15kWh capacity are eligible for the full incentive amount up to $3,000, while plug-in hybrids below 15kWh (but above 4kWh) are eligible for incentives up to $1,500. Vehicles must retail for less than $55,000.

While the prospect of consumers purchasing electric vehicles over gas is certainly a plus for the environment — they produce little-to-no greenhouse gas emissions when driven, and reduce consumer demand for oil — it’s important to remember that electric vehicles will still contribute at least some emissions and waste during their production and end-of-life.

Electric vehicles must also still be driven. Across North America, we must still contend with major issues of vehicle traffic and road congestion. Demand for vehicle space must be managed. In Metro Vancouver, for example, virtually all of the road space for cars is built out – they’re not adding much of anything new to the network.

Accordingly, if one has the option to walk, bike or transit, one should be encouraged and enabled (and able) to do so.

But for those of you who must drive, there are fewer and fewer excuses for not seriously considering electric vehicles.

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