End of a BC Electric Car Company

IT Electric Car (photo from Dynasty Electric Car Corp)

IT Electric Car (photo from Dynasty Electric Car Corp)

Vancouver Courier

It’s sad to hear that a car known as the IT is not allowed to drive on BC roads.  New legislation seemed to allow that to happen.  the IT is a small little utilitarian electric car.  Just a body and seats and some space to store stuff.  But it was a fully electric car made in Kelowna.

In August, the B.C. government amended the Motor Vehicle Act to limit low-speed vehicles like the IT to roads with a posted speed limit of 40 km/h or less. The amendment allows individual municipalities to pass bylaws allowing low-speed vehicles on roads with a 50 km/h speed limit within their jurisdictions, but so far only Oak Bay has done so. For low-speed vehicles to venture outside Oak Bay, other Victoria suburbs would have to follow suit.

Because the car can no longer be driven in BC, sales went down and the original company Dynasty Motor Car Corporation had to sell the rights for making this vehicle.

This time around, legislation did them in.

For Epp it’s a case of a lost opportunity. It’s also a loss to this province. As of last year, the IT electric vehicle is no longer made in B.C. The right to manufacture it has been sold to a company in Pakistan.

David Epp of the Dynasty Electric Car Corporation points out the disadvantages of the current alternatives in the automobile market:

Critics of the electric car point to the hybrid or the hydrogen fuel-cell car as the vehicle of the future. But Epp says hybrids aren’t the way to go. With both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, they’re more complex. And they recharge by driving on gasoline, instead of plugging in to a household circuit.

“Hybrid vehicles have no better gas mileage on the highways than any other vehicle,” says Epp. “They only are able to take advantage of hybrid technology within urban city driving conditions–they’re only able to use the battery during all the short hops.”

Epp, who worked for Ballard Power Systems in the 1980s developing fuel cells, shakes his head at the notion that hydrogen-fueled vehicles are the solution to our smog problems. Sure, they’re zero-emission vehicles, he says, but the only economical way to derive hydrogen is from natural gas–hardly the answer to our dependence on fossil fuels. Producing hydrogen by using electricity to electrolyze water, he says, is “hugely inefficient.”

In addition, hydrogen is a low-density gas that’s difficult to store, except under high pressure or at cryogenic (extremely low) temperatures. And an infrastructure of hydrogen-dispensing “gas stations” is a long way off.

In comparison, the conventional electric outlet the IT plugs into is found in every home and business in Canada. And here in B.C., most of our electricity is derived from clean hydro-electric dams, rather than from carbon-spewing coal-fired plants.

“It’s a real shame that we can’t demonstrate leadership in this area to the rest of Canada,” says Epp.

Again, it seems like legislation is backwards in Canada.  We like to think we’re a progressive country, but the sad reality is that we have this niggly little laws that prevent us from moving forward on new and better things.  Think about these things, especially since we are now in the middle of a federal election.  Why do our governments insist on stifling good things?


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