Drivers lined up at an electric vehicle charging station in Hope, July 2021. (Photo credit: Facebook)

The Editor’s Desk: The way of the future

Don't laugh at people waiting to charge their electric vehicles; they're the way of the future

Much amusement was generated recently by a photograph showing a line of Tesla vehicles waiting in Hope — and presumably in hope — to fuel up at an electric vehicle charger in that fair town.

(As an aside, do people “fuel up” when they have an electric vehicle? Does “fuel” encompass anything that powers a vehicle, or just gasoline or diesel? No doubt the correct terminology will sort itself out as electric vehicles become more prevalent, and make no mistake, this is going to happen.)

The merriment was fueled — if you’ll pardon the pun — by the thought of all these people waiting for a lengthy period of time (one commenter indicated the wait was 2.5 hours) to do something that drivers of gas-powered vehicles can accomplish in less than five minutes before tootling merrily on their way. However, it’s not that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that drivers of horse-drawn carts and wagons were laughing at early adapters of the motor car.

There they were, these new masters of the road, roaring along at a breakneck 20 miles per hour and frightening the horses. But at the dawn of the motor vehicle age, there was no such thing as a gas station on every corner, or even in every town. When the BX Express began switching from stagecoaches to motorized vehicles, they had to have gasoline cached along their routes, otherwise there was often nowhere to gas up. Ordinary motorists, not having access to these caches, could easily find themselves high and dry in the middle of nowhere and facing a long walk to the nearest source of gas (unless a friendly passer-by with a horse and cart gave them a lift, doubtless chuckling as they did so).

So rather than laugh at the EV drivers lined up in Hope waiting for a charge, reflect that in this scenario they’re the newfangled motorcar, and the rest of us are the people with the horse and cart. And when was the last time you saw a horse-drawn cart heading down the highway to Kamloops?

The other factor to consider is what, precisely, all those EV drivers (and any passengers) were doing while they waited. It’s been pretty hot around here lately; I don’t know about you, but the prospect of sitting in my vehicle for two or more hours in this heat, waiting for my turn at the charger, is not an appealing one. No; I’d be getting out, stretching my legs, having a look around, and heading off to a promising-looking store, or a museum, or a restaurant. Even if there was no one waiting in line in front of me, it’s going to be 20 minutes or so until my car is charged, so I’ll be spying out a decent place to get a coffee.

All of which is to say that the Blue Moose Coffee House in Hope probably gets a decent amount of custom from EV owners looking to grab a bite or a sup while their vehicles charge up. I also suspect that a good many Tesla owners in particular, seeing the lineups in Hope, might decide to push on to another community not a million miles away with a bank of eight Tesla charging stations. Somewhere like Cache Creek, in fact.

Which is why so many communities actively campaign for EV chargers: economic development. Sure, they talk about clean energy, renewable resources, the way of the future, going green, etc., but attracting people to the community, where they will spend some of their hard-earned cash, is a huge factor. Even at an average spend of $5 each — which is almost certainly on the conservative side — it doesn’t take too many EV owners visiting local businesses for things to add up. What business owner is going to turn up their nose at a few hundred dollars — or more — that would otherwise drive right past their front door?

Have a chuckle at the EV owners in Hope if you will, but they’re the way of the future. Local businesses that benefit from them are laughing too: all the way to the bank.

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