As gas prices soared to record highs Wednesday, Langford Mayor Stew Young said Tesla Motors’ plan to open Vancouver Island’s first sales, service and delivery centre in his community couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Why wouldn’t you invest in an electric vehicle … with the price of gas right now and going forward, it’s going to pay for itself,” Young said as he prepared to break ground on Tesla’s new building. “I’m just seeing Teslas everywhere right now.”
Pump prices rocketed up 18 cents a litre to $1.949, fuelled by the conflict in Ukraine, and analysts say the price is expected to reach $2 and beyond.
Young will join Tesla’s Canadian executives this morning at the electric vehicle company’s new site at 2361 City Gate Blvd., part of a new condominium and business development by Seacliff Properties opposite Home Depot.
The mayor said he’s seen recent data showing there are more Tesla cars on southern Vancouver Island, per capita, than in any other region in Canada.
“This is the way of the future and a big part of Langford’s climate action plan,” Young said. “By 2027, all our fire and police vehicles, all the city trucks and cars will be electric. Having Tesla here will help us with that.”
Young estimates the cost of Tesla’s new building at between $40 million and $50 million, with completion expected within 18 months. In the meantime, the company is reportedly opening a temporary store on Douglas Street.
Tesla currently has 21 stores in Canada, including four on the Lower Mainland.
The Victoria EV Association, an 1,800-member club promoting the use of electric vehicles, estimates there are 4,000 electric vehicles on the Island — including about 3,000 Teslas.
The province said 54,469 EVs were on the road in B.C. at the end of 2020, with owners saving about $1,800 a year in fuel costs.
Dave Grove, president of the Victoria EV Association, said an Island Tesla store is good news and long overdue.
“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Grove said. “We’ve got a lot of Tesla owners all over the Island and Langford is a great location close to the Island Highway, so the access would be perfect for Tesla owners here and in places like Nanaimo.”
Tesla shattered vehicle-delivery records last year, delivering 308,000 vehicles from October to December and just over 936,000 vehicles in 2021. That’s an 87 per cent increase in deliveries from 2020 and a 71 per cent increase from 2020’s fourth-quarter deliveries.
As their popularity grows , electric vehicles have been hard to get, and manufacturers are having a tough time keeping up with demand.
Grove said the Victoria EV Association has been consulting with several municipalities and police forces across the capital region on conversion to electric vehicles. A popular choice for police is Tesla’s Model Y, which has a range of 530 kilometres on a single charge and all-wheel drive with dual independent motors.
Young said those cars as well as a Ford Mustang are being considered by West Shore RCMP. “They are very efficient and have a lot of power to catch the bad guys,” he said.
Grove said the Model Y makes a good police car because they are powerful, comfortable for long patrols and healthier for officers who sometimes have to sit in idling vehicles for extended periods.
Tesla has been servicing the Island for some time with its “Tesla Rangers,” a fleet of mechanics who can service the vehicles. Grove said Tesla owners can book the service online and technicians can meet drivers anywhere for service. However, if a major problem occurs, vehicles have to be loaded on flatdecks and transported to the closest service store in Vancouver.
Young said Langford has been working with the developer and Tesla for about a year to bring in the new facility. He said the brand augments Langford’s vision of “creating a modern city” and he expects Tesla will create jobs and attract more people to live there.