Friday, April 13, 2012

Vancouver Autoshow 2012: Are alternative cars really the way to turn green?

Get $5000 CAD for this car!

Well, actually, what you get is up to $5,000 CAD taken from the retail price at the dealers. The incentive is pro-rated according to the type of car you get: $5,000 for a fuel cell car or an electric car, and at least $2,500 for a natural gas car.

Check out for more information; they’ve a neat brochure that summarizes their programs. 

But what’s interesting to me is how much the BC government has earmarked for this initiative: ~ $6 million CAD is available till the end of March 2013! This is great incentive. I believe that, like the Scrap-It Program, this new provincial program will be a great success.

Critics of these initiatives say the prices of these vehicles are still too high for most consumers. They argue, that, if you had $40K to spend on a car ... would you go for an alternative vehicle over a BMW?

I for one think that’s the wrong issue to focus on. The proper question would be whether you can get away from using the car in the first place. The money of this incentive, for example, can be used instead towards tax credits for those companies located near the homes of its employee (say, within a 10 km radius of 51% of its employees’ residences).

This type of incentive would address a couple of issues at the same time: migration of businesses, and greenhouse gases (GHG). I’ve noticed that a number of businesses, primarily high-tech, have been steadily moving out of Vancouver into the suburbs. No, not to Burnaby or Richmond, but further still: Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Delta, and Surrey. One of the reasons: property taxes. Naturally, it stands to reason that businesses in a competitive market with very tight profit margins will take steps to decrease their operating costs. So why not help them to stay closer to their employees? In turn, the more people who can walk, cycle, or use public transportation to get to their place of work, the less dependency on automobiles, and the lower production of GHG .

So, yes, reduction in the use of our cars, changing to alternative models, using public transport, they all have an impact. However, what I would like to drive home is the importance of our choices as consumers: where we work and live, how we go from one place to another, or even how our food is transported are all important choices.

No comments:

Post a Comment