Foreign electric vehicle-makers are wrapping up the year by drawing a bead on the Vancouver market.
U.S.-based Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq:RIVN) began its first international deliveries in B.C. this week after getting the nod from Transport Canada to sell their pickup truck and SUV models in this country.
Vietnam-based competitor VinFast LLC is also revving up for the regional market with plans to open a store in West Vancouver by the end of 2022.
Much of Rivian’s Canadian staff are based in Vancouver, where about 150 software and customer engagement employees work out of its downtown office. The company said B.C. deliveries will continue through the end of the year and accelerate in 2023
B.C. is one of the largest markets for EVs in North America. It's also home to EV-makers such as Damon Motors Inc., ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. (Nasdaq:SOLO) and GreenPower Motor Company Inc. (Nasdaq:GP), which specialize in single-passenger vehicles, motorbikes and buses, respectively.
Sixteen per cent of car sales in the province are now going to EVs, according to Google Canada data.
“The trend of having incentives in place for a longer duration with kind of a provincial legislature that has always been focused on being more environmentally friendly in B.C., I think there is definitely a demographic difference that I've noticed on the West Coast of people and their desire to be more environmentally friendly, and the continuity of EVs and EV incentives has definitely played a role,” Al-Karim Awadia, the head of the automotive industry for Google Canada, told BIV earlier this month when asked about what’s driving market demand for EVs in the province.
The B.C. government was offering rebates of up to $3,000 for plug-in electric car purchases and $1,500 for plug-in hybrids at the start of the year.
But the province kicked off August by boosting rebates up to $1,000 for zero-emission vehicles (ZEV). The heightened effort to encourage ZEV purchases comes as both the province and Ottawa have mandated 100 per cent of new passenger vehicle sales to be ZEVs by 2035.
Federal EV subsidies are available for vehicles with a base model price of less than $55,000, or $65,000 with higher-priced trim levels, while B.C. has a $70,000 limit for larger vehicles including SUVs.
Rivian held an open house over the weekend at the Rocky Mountaineer Station in the city’s east side to showcase the vehicles making their international debut. The company said about 1,500 people attended the open house over two days.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese upstart EV-maker VinFast opened its first Canadian showroom in Toronto last week.
It plans to open seven more stores in the country by the end of the year including at Park Royal Shopping Centre in West Vancouver.
VinFast, a subsidiary of the Vingroup conglomerate, started taking online reservations from Canadians for its vehicles in March, with first deliveries at its showrooms expected around the end of this year or early 2023.
–With files from the Canadian Press