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Leading the Charge

There’s a shiny new vehicle model in the BCAA Auto Service fleet: the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning. With their fresh BCAA logos and gear installed, these tough-as-nails trucks are more than qualified for the rigours of their role, providing Roadside Assistance and more – just like their counterparts. But as Ford’s first-ever battery-powered pickup, they’re fully chargeable, getting around 375 km of driving range per juice-up. And as the first EVs to join the BCAA Auto Service fleet, they’re also an important early step in BCAA’s journey to lower its carbon footprint across the board. Read on as we share some of the other ways BCAA is leading the charge on electrification – empowering British Columbians to not just move forward – but forward toward a sustainable future.

TIP!
Need EV info and buying tips? See BCAA’s new online EV resource: bcaa.com/ev

BCAA Fleet Trainer Mario Barone and Auto Service instructor Jim Berladyn stand in a garage in front of a white SUV, surrounded by engines

BCAA Fleet Trainer Mario Barone with instructor Jim Berladyn from BCIT’s Electric Vehicle Maintenance Training program.

We’re Taking the Auto Service Fleet Electric

The new trucks are likely to be the first of many, says BCAA Director of Automotive Richard Gaspar. “We’re really thrilled about introducing these zero-emission vehicles into our fleet,” he says. “As a purpose-led organization, it’s our job to innovate in ways that lighten our environmental footprint, and inspire that change in others, too. This journey we’re on to take our entire fleet electric is one way we can do that – while also supporting our Members who are on this journey, too.”

The new trucks will be a test case for what’s possible in the future, adds Gaspar. One exciting prospect is to use the EVs as mobile roadside chargers for other battery-powered vehicles. Carrying 98 kWh of energy per charge, a Ford Lightning is capable of lending EV-driving BCAA Members some extra juice, to get them moving with at least enough power to make it to the nearest charging station. “It’s something we plan to look at, especially in urban areas where there is more charging infrastructure,” says Gaspar. Of course, Roadside Assistance vehicles will always be there to lend a tow, too, whether to a charging station or garage.

Jim Berladyn, BCAA Auto Service instructor, stands in front of BCAA Auto Service pickup truck

Mario Barone is one of several BCAA Auto Service leaders who have recently attended BCIT’s Electric Vehicle Maintenance Training program.

We’re Going to EV School

BCAA isn’t the only place where EVs are becoming a whole lot more common. The BC Government’s Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Act requires automakers to meet an escalating annual percentage of new light-duty ZEV sales and leases, reaching 26 per cent of light-duty vehicle sales by 2026, 90 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2035.

Knowing its Auto Service teams will need to service these vehicles, BCAA is sending its mechanics back to school. Though EVs are generally lower-maintenance than a standard internal combustion-engine vehicle, they operate differently, notes Gaspar, so technicians need to become familiar with the latest EV systems, as well as safe handling. Most recently, several BCAA Auto Service Managers attended the BCIT Electric Vehicle Maintenance Training program. Delivered at the school’s Burnaby campus, the program is designed to provide Red Seal Automotive Technicians with the skills to diagnose and repair zero-emission vehicles, from the safe handling of high-voltage batteries and enhanced fire precautions to diagnosing and fixing issues. “We want our teams to build some confidence and familiarity,” says Gaspar. “And then subsequent to that, we put our trainers and technicians through an internal course to build a stronger knowledge base.”

Later this year, BCAA’s Roadside fleet and Auto Service teams will also pass through the Automotive Retailers Association EVfriendly program, adds Gaspar. Sponsored by the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, this online program helps train auto pros in servicing, repairing and recycling ZEVs safely.

Electric Evo Kia Niro parked near the ocean

Five fully electric Kia Niros have been circulating BCAA's Vancouver-based Evo Car Share fleet as a pilot program, and this summer, 11 more are set to arrive, joining the popular Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles.

We’re Adding More Electric Evos

For the past couple of years, five fully electric Kia Niros have been circulating in Vancouver’s Evo fleet as a pilot program. This summer, 11 more are set to arrive.

Data from the expanded pilot will help Evo on its path to electrification, says Karly Nygaard-Petersen, Senior Manager of Consumer Marketing for Evo.

“Sustainability is at the core of what we do, and we know that on average every car-share vehicle removes nine personal vehicles from the road,” says Nygaard-Petersen. “This is why we started Evo, and why we chose to launch with Toyota Prius hybrid vehicles. The opportunity to further reduce emissions and provide more BC communities with zero-emission transportation options is really exciting.”

Friends pose in front of an Evo

Hybrid Toyota Prius.

While the initial EV fleet is small, it’s teaching the team some big lessons on bringing an electrified fleet of shared vehicles to scale, she adds. For instance: “It’s really easy and fast to fuel our hybrid vehicles on a mobile basis, but right now there isn’t really mobile-charging technology to mirror that,” she says. “We’re also looking to international car-share markets to learn how they are tackling the electrification of shared mobility.”

MEMBERS SAVE

BCAA Members get free Evo Membership, 10% off every trip and 60 free driving minutes. evo.ca

 

We’re Rolling Out Micromobility

Electrification is happening on a micro scale, too. Over the past few years, Evo has also been rolling out Evolve E-Bike Share. The service, which started out as five programs with private businesses, is now working on going public. “And further down the road, Evolve might, well, evolve!” says says Kyla Way, BCAA Senior Manager of Marketing Strategic Ventures. She and her team are looking into the possibility of adding shared electric scooters, similar to those seen across Europe and some North American municipalities. These are an important “last and first mile” option, she says, linking other forms of sustainable transport. “Micromobility is a complement to our current Evo offering,” says Way. “It’s about creating that full cycle of mobility options.”

Evolve electric scooter and e-bike

BCAA is rolling out electric micromobility, including Evolve E-Bike Share (right). The Evolve team is also planning to pilot electric shared scooters (left), similar to those seen across Europe and some North American cities.

We’re Moving Forward Together

On the cusp of widespread electrification is a pretty thrilling place to be. “There’s a lot of excitement right now,” says Gaspar. “We’re introducing zero-emission vehicles at the roadside to help BCAA Members, and we’re transitioning our own fleet to zero-emission – while at the same time building confidence across our team in their ability to help Members who have zero-emission vehicles.”

It’s all part of BCAA leading the charge on electrification, adds Nygaard-Petersen. “BCAA and Evo are committed to moving sustainable transportation forward in BC,” she says. “Our goal is to inspire British Columbians with our journey toward electrification on all fronts. We know that’s what our Members want, and what British Columbians want. So we really want to be on the leading edge of making that a reality.” 

GOING ELECTRIC?

Learn about EV options in BC, plus tips for buying EVs, finding charge stations and more. bcaa.com/ev

 

First published in the Spring/Summer 2023 BCAA Magazine. Read more from BCAA Magazine.

Photo credit: Robert Karpa