Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association’s 2015 ElectraFest sees record turnout

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      On July 18, the 20th edition of ElectraFest, the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association’s annual get-together, took place in the Concord Pacific parking lot just off Expo Boulevard.

      With at least a dozen manufacturers exhibiting their wares and free test drives/rides available throughout the day, it was the largest turnout ever for ElectraFest. Scattered among the offerings from manufacturers such as Nissan, Kia, Mitsubishi, BMW, Mercedes, and Tesla were a couple of new kids on the block.

      First up, VeloMetro—a company based in Vancouver that’s developing a human-powered, fully enclosed urban vehicle with a top speed in the neighbourhood of 30 kilometres per hour. In the company’s own words, it’s building “a sophisticated, enclosed, electric-assist, smartphone-connected vehicle, ideal for personal transportation in urban and suburban areas.”

      Known as VeloCars, these little rigs will protect their occupants from the elements, with a modicum of cargo space for small bits and pieces. Adds the company, “VeloCars replace automobiles, not bicycles, but they overcome the shortcomings of bicycles with all-weather use, lockable cargo space, and anti-theft provisions.” You can’t buy a VeloCar just yet, but the company says it won’t be long. For more, go to

      Along the same lines but fully battery-powered is the Sparrow, a single-occupant urban runabout that looks like a giant human nose on wheels. Designed by motorcycle-seat entrepreneur Mike Corbin, the Sparrow is being stick-handled in B.C. by Henry Reisner and Jerry Kroll, both familiar names in the local automotive community. For more info, see

      Based in California, Corbin Motors built a few Sparrows before it ceased production in the late 1990s. Reisner and Kroll have picked up the gauntlet in Canada and have described the Sparrow as “the Beetle for the 21st Century”. It’s powered by a lithium-ion battery pack and has a range of up to 140 kilometres, according to Kroll. Apparently, bureaucratic hurdles have been cleared and the Sparrow is ready for the market. It will be priced in the $20,000 range.

      If you’re not ready to take the electric-vehicle plunge but still need transport, there’s a new car-share in town. Known as Evo Car Share, this service is similar in concept to Zipcar, Modo, and Car2Go and is operated by BCAA, but it’s available to members and non-members alike—for a fee, of course. All vehicles in the Evo fleet are Toyota Priuses, and they can be reserved 30 minutes in advance via an app or the Evo website. Evo operates in a “home zone” bounded by Camosun Street, Nanaimo Street, 41st Avenue, and Burrard Inlet, as well as the Park ’n’ Fly facility at YVR, but users can take the cars out of the home zone, as long as they’re returned to it. For more info, visit

      And no visit to ElectraFest would be complete without taking a spin along the seawall on an electric bicycle.

      This time around, I hopped aboard a Motorino CTi, also known as a “Lady’s Classic” and styled after the traditional Dutch Omafiets, which were specifically designed for female riders. That doesn’t apply to me, but it was the only bike available at the time and is one of the company’s top sellers. With a lithium-ion battery, the retro-themed CTi will go up to 40 kilometres on a single charge, depending on how much pedalling is done; it can reach a top speed of just under 30 kilometres per hour on pure battery power.

      Like most bikes of this ilk, the CTi features a power-assist setup that engages the electric motor when the rider pedals, with several settings as well as a twist throttle for pure battery power. The twist grip is much like that found on a conventional motorcycle, and this is the bike’s biggest drawback, in my opinion. No problem with torque or available power, but the twist grip is awkward and imprecise. I can see it being irritating over the long haul, and all things considered, a snowmobile-type thumb throttle would be better.



      Where's the fuel?

      Jul 21, 2015 at 6:34pm

      Fossil free electric cars need fuel too.
      And that fuel would need to be fossil free too else there is little point in mining lithium for hundreds of millions of big batteries.

      Site C?

      Vanadis O

      Jul 22, 2015 at 2:09pm

      The Toyota Priuses from Evo Car Share are NOT electric vehicles. They don't have a plug but two complementary drive systems: a gasoline engine and fuel tank and an electric motor, battery and controls. The engine and the motor can simultaneously turn the transmission, which powers the wheels. They cannot be recharged from the power grid. Their energy comes entirely from gasoline and regenerative braking.

      Bruce Stout

      Jul 22, 2015 at 3:12pm

      Tesla Model S vehicles have become common in Vancouver, but very few have been driven from Vancouver to Halifax and Back using only Canadian Electricity. The distance was 17,895 kilometers and we visited 9 of 10 provinces. So the next time someone asks how far can you drive a Battery Powered Electric Vehicle, the answer is Clean Across Canada.
      Quebec = 99 per cent Hydro BCHydro - 94 per cent hydro.
      no vibration, no smell, and you can talk in a normal voice at 90 Kmh due to lack of noise.

      100 per cent Electric Vehicles have been tried in car sharing programs BUT the last person to share the vehicle must plug it in for several hours. This was not happening so when you tried to share the vehicle, it was only good for the remaining range from the last share which was usually only 20 kilometers.
      100 per cent Electric Vehicle car share will work if the vehicle can be DC Quick Charged to 80 per cent capacity in 30 minutes and it is returned to the charger and connected after each use.
      DC Quick Chargers are already installed in North Vancouver City, Hastings and Rupert at the PNE and Langley Town Centre. You will also find them in Penticton, Squamish, Revelstoke, Eco Dairy in Abbotsford and coming soon to Hope BC.

      Bruce Stout

      Jul 22, 2015 at 5:28pm

      Correction DC Quick Charger is in PENTICTON already.
      DC Quick Charger in Princeton has not yet been installed.

      Bruce Stout

      Jul 22, 2015 at 8:44pm

      I have just been reminded that SECHELT on the Sunshine Coast also has a DC Quick Charger that will charge your Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiev, and Kia Soul EV to 80 percent capacity in only 33 minutes. Charging cost is about 35 cents per Kilowatt hour or about half the cost for the Gasoline required to send an economy car the same distance.

      Roman Stoiber

      Jul 24, 2015 at 11:49am

      Driving 100% electric is a pure pleasure.
      Even stop and go grid lock rush hour commuting isn't so bad.
      In fact the range is best under the most severe city conditions.
      My wife and I fight over who gets to drive our little black I-MiEV!