The Vancouver Sunreported today that British Columbia and Alberta are expected to lead Canada in new vehicle sales in 2005 "thanks to healthy economies and confident consumers."
The good news—aside from the confident consumers—is that hybrid vehicles, as in other parts of the Northwest, are rocketing out of BC car lots "as fast as they can be supplied." Hybrid sales have been spurred on in part because BC just doubled its tax exemption for hybrids to a max of $2,000.
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The popularity of fuel-efficient vehicles bodes well for BC and the rest of Cascadia, obviously: A more efficient fleet saves consumers money, sends fewer pollutants into the atmosphere, and contributes to energy security. But hybrids still make up only a small percentage of vehicle sales—British Columbians owned 600 hybrids at last tally—and they can be an expensive way to fuel up less often.
To make real progress in turbocharging vehicle efficiency, Canada should adopt consumer feebates for vehicles, as Ottawa’s new budget promises to consider. Feebates can be applied within each size class of vehicle, whether compacts, minivans, or pickups. That way, those who need large vehicles are not penalized unfairly; instead, everyone is rewarded for buying the most fuel-sipping model in the size-class that makes sense for them.
British Columbians are already the region’s top scorers in energy efficiency: They consume more than a third less gas per person than other northwesterners (see the energy section of the Scorecard’s 2005 data sheet, pdf). With feebates in place, BC could really pull ahead.