One of the world’s most iconic vans is making a comeback…

But this time, it’s electric. Slated for production by 2022, the “electric microbus” is one of five new electric models in Volkswagen’s ID. series — a family of 100% electric vehicles, which includes a crossover, a compact, a sedan, and of course, the van.

Just like the classic VW van, there will be room for up to seven people with an adjustable interior that includes a table and movable seats. Volkswagen also intends on enabling all ID. series models with a fully autonomous feature option.

Distance, a major concern of many when it comes to purchasing an electric vehicle, is no longer an issue. The van will have an electric range of 400 to 600 km, comparable to pretty much any gas-powered vehicle. Further, Volkswagen has partnered with Electrify Canada (partnership formed by Electrify America in cooperation with Volkswagen Canada) to build ultra-fast electric vehicle charging infrastructure to give Canadians the reliability they need to confidently make the switch to electric. Planning and deployment are well underway, including network routes — you can check out the Vancouver to Calgary route here.

While the price is currently unknown, a point of reference may be offered by the current retail price of Volkswagen’s e-Gulf, of which starts at $36,000 CAD.

With the news of this release, I couldn’t help but think: what if other companies brought back electrified versions of cool old favourites? Would this help incentivize at least some of the drivers who are reluctant to give up their gas powered vehicles for electric?

For example, what if mainstream car companies responsible for the creation of classics like the Dodge Charger or Ford Mustang offered an electric model? With Ford planning to release a hybrid Mustang, this concept may not be too far off.

Cool-factor aside, there are other emerging incentives to encourage the purchase of electric over gas, including recent Federal and Provincial (BC) tax rebates offered to those who’ve purchased new electric vehicles. Federal incentives include a rebate of up to $5,000 (ranging from $2,500 for short-range vehicles, to $5,000 for long-range vehicles). To qualify, vehicles must have a retail value of $45,000 or less (base model), with higher values qualifying when the vehicle has more than seven seats

Provincial incentives include rebates of up to $3,000 based on vehicle type and battery capacity. Battery electric, fuel cell, and plug in hybrids above a 15kWh capacity are eligible for the full incentive amount up to $3,000, while plug-in hybrids below 15kWh (but above 4kWh) are eligible for incentives up to $1,500. Vehicles must retail for less than $55,000.

While the prospect of consumers purchasing electric vehicles over gas is certainly a plus for the environment — they produce little-to-no greenhouse gas emissions when driven, and reduce consumer demand for oil — it’s important to remember that electric vehicles will still contribute at least some emissions and waste during their production and end-of-life.

Electric vehicles must also still be driven. Across North America, we must still contend with major issues of vehicle traffic and road congestion. Demand for vehicle space must be managed. In Metro Vancouver, for example, virtually all of the road space for cars is built out – they’re not adding much of anything new to the network.

Accordingly, if one has the option to walk, bike or transit, one should be encouraged and enabled (and able) to do so.

But for those of you who must drive, there are fewer and fewer excuses for not seriously considering electric vehicles.


  1. ah yes,

    the new VW electric micro-bus; a platform for exodus from the city in a go anywhere tiny home. never come back to the urban life style. go free range. live a country lifestyle on your own terms.

    I want one, I want to get out of this place. I was born to roam…………………….and explore the planet and all its unique environments.

    It would be interesting to tour all the places that contributed material to the VW electric micro-bus, the places that mined earth minerals, processed raw chemicals, refined materials, manufactured components, assembled pieces, and built land and sea transporters. If I could see all those connections needed to build a VW Van and all the energy those connections require to function, I wonder if that Van would still seem so cool to me?

    em……………. still think I want one. maybe they can make one out of recycled plastic.

    1. And fossil fuel facilities don’t use concrete, steel and plastics? Have you seen refineries, pipelines and gas stations?

      The difference is you need to keep feeding that infrastructure with fossil fuels even after they are built.

  2. The nicest thing about VW camper vans is that you had a place to stay while waiting for a tow truck.

    Long before DieselGate, VW was up to other shenanigans.

    Remember the crap radios that were relentlessly stolen after breaking the rear quarter window? VW made a fortune selling that little window.
    There was no delete option on that radio. You couldn’t buy their crap cars without a radio. VW owners often replaced it several times before giving up. VI’ve seen signs in cars saying the radio had already been stolen.
    Vile VW behaviour.

    And their absolute rubbish bumpers … if you sneezed, that garbage would crumple. At $1,500 bucks a pop replacement for those toilet paper bumpers, many owners did without.

    “Iconic” … in what sense.

    And, they have the gall to tack on an extra grand or two as ADM. Additional Dealer Markup.

    Buy a VW? Gullible fools.

    1. Point well taken!

      We got a good deal on the mother-in-law’s ’93 VW Golf with low milage. It didn’t even hit 70,000 km before the electrics started to malfunction. A faulty heat sensor in the transmission caused short circuits all through the engine no matter how many times it was replaced. In hot weather the engine would start missing, and we’d have to quickly turn it off and on at red lights to break the cycle every 10 minutes. Very strange. Stalling altogether on the way to the ferry terminal was scary. Thankfully, we weren’t in the tunnel. I joked that with a bit of tinkering it could prepare a cappuccino on demand through the left turn signal. We got rid of the Golf when the alarm chip malfunctioned and went off anytime, anywhere. Driving down the road, middle of the night, it didn’t matter. We bought a late model Japanese econobox and drive it less than 9,000 km a year. Once we’re both retired we’ll consider selling it and sticking with walking, transit and car share.

  3. First, the good part. I am happy to see at least five of the major car makers ramping up the production of EVs in chorus. Toyota, the biggest one, aims to clock EVs at 50% of world production by 2025. The oil companies had better ramp up their diversification plans (if they have any they’re being awfully quiet about them) because without gas tanks in personal cars they are nothing, or will be cardboard cutouts of themselves at best by 2030 . Alberta is being willfully ignorant about this when bullying BC to accept a highly-flawed project to push a second Trans Mountain pipeline through.

    Now, the downside. The ‘V’ in EVs is still a major impediment to making our cities more resilient and efficacious. That’s because of the real estate roads consume. I don’t believe EVs will ever be able to replace the internal combustion engine at 1:1 because of the lack of energy once oil starts its decline in earnest.* Some estimates put the total available world energy at about 30% less with fossil fuels on the downswing. This is where public transit and better land use planning really need to come into play. Walkable compact communities, transit and bikes, these are key 21st Century instruments of sustainable urbanism.

    * BC is being naive if it believes it has the electrical generation capacity to accept a major market push with EVs in just five years without a major initiative to develop renewables, hopefully fostered through BC Hydro with reasonable limits placed on private power companies, namely on the use of public water and land resources.

    1. Oil for ICE vehicles only about 10% of global oil demand .. and for that to drop to 0 will be 40-50 years .. if ever .. and the rest of the growing worlwide oil demand will be petro-chemicals actually .. ( see here ) .. hence Alberta’s oil supply is scheduled to grow 25% to the 2030s to well over 5M barrel/day

      So shooting ourselves in the foot and let other nations prosper from this growing oil demand is good why ?

      The report states “The report shows a constrained outlook for Canadian oil production over the forecast period from 2019 to 2035 and, although the country’s overall crude oil production is expected to grow over the coming years, that growth forecast is significantly reduced from previous expectations. Pipeline constraints, a lack of market diversity, and inefficient regulations are largely responsible for holding back Canada’s oil sector.

      CAPP projects Canadian crude oil production will increase by 1.27 million barrels per day (b/d) to 5.86 million b/d by 2035. This represents a 1.44 per cent annual increase, a growth rate less than half of what was projected in CAPP’s 2014 outlook.

      This year, capital spending in the oil sands is set to decline for a fifth consecutive year to roughly $12 billion, approximately one-third of the investment seen in 2014. Conventional oil producers are expected to drill fewer wells in 2019 compared to either of the two previous years, and activity is not likely to improve without better market access via pipelines.

      Overall, capital investment across Canada’s oil and natural gas industry is forecast to fall to $37 billion in 2019 compared to $81 billion in 2014. With global demand for crude oil expected to grow through to 2040, Canada has the opportunity to reclaim over $40 billion of investment if it addresses the key challenges surrounding access to international markets and regulatory and fiscal policy both federally and provincially.

      If those challenges are not met, any meaningful increase in oil production will not be achievable, reducing potential growth in Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP), business investment, exports, and jobs.”

      1. Um… Beyer. Could you explain why anybody would continue reading past your first completely erroneous opening statement? Well, except to prove you wrong as usual.

        Even petrochemicals are being challenged by growth in plant based alternatives that are less harmful. Sure we’ll see oil being used for many things for decades to come in the same way people still used horses a couple of decades after the Model T. Increasingly insignificant niche markets. Who’s going to invest in a declining industry? Your own clip shows that tar sands investment keeps falling. At some point that decline will reach critical mass. It will undoubtedly be an ugly collapse where millions of duped investor lose everything while insiders unload and walk away with $billions. Enron II. It’s not going to surprise me at all if the IEA is seen to be nothing more than part of the pump-and-dump machine. They’re persistent at overstating future oil growth and revising after the fact.

        There is only one gas station left downtown and they’re disappearing quickly around the fringes. How long before it gets to be a royal pain to find one at all?

  4. Fossil fuels will be with us for a very long time because industry runs on the various products it produces. Gasoline is but one product, albeit a voluminous one that we can do with out in our passenger cars. Never-the-less there will be continued demand from the industrial, agricultural, shipping and aviation sectors for fossil fuel products.

    What we in Vancouver, should be looking to do in terms of reducing carbon emissions is the conversion of all our transportation options to electric power. We should be increasing our renewable production at the distribution end of the grid system using home production with solar and wind.

    Is not the Province expanding hydro power production at Site C?

    1. Industry will be the first to switch as soon as the alternative is cheaper. And the rewards are so high for whoever’s the first to come up with a cheaper alternative that it’s virtually certain to happen – the only real question is when.

      Fossil fuel will fight to survive because as demand drops, excess supply will drive prices down. It will survive in niches where alternatives are impractical, but that will be a small fraction of it’s former dominance.

      It’s interesting to me that “peak oil” is now more likely to come about as a result of declining demand, rather than the exhaustion of supply that was widely surmised.

    2. Half of all refined world oil production goes toward road transportation. It is the largest segment, with petrochemicals following far behind at less than 15%. It’s clear that every slice taken off the demand for liquid road transport fuels through EVs, better transit and so forth will directly affect the oil industry. This will be painful in jurisdictions that rely too much on this one commodity.

      The world price of oil is volatile. Too high and there will be a recession as consumers find alternatives or get priced out (the airline fuel surcharges are a case in point), and demand with the associated economic activity decreases. Too low and the producers see profits being reduced though demand will eventually increase, and royalty revenue that foolishly supports vital public services like healthcare and education evaporates in the absence of sales taxes, and therein leads to cuts to services where it is politically unpalatable to enact new or raise existing taxes.

      The price can be manipulated by production increases or cuts, but that is also economically unstable because of geological and debt limitations. Stay tuned as the debt-saturated US shale oil industry reaches its geological decline rate cliff right about the time millions of EVs enter the market, likely by the mid-2020s. US shale along with Alberta overproduction created a big North American glut that lowered world prices, still ongoing in its fourth year. That will not last forever, and a price roller coaster may evolve from all this.

      Peak oil = peak cheap oil. All of the cheap, conventional supergiant fields have been tapped and are in decline. There have been no new cheap (conventional) oil reserve discoveries with high energy returns on energy invested for 50 years. What’s left is the far more expensive unconventionals like tar sands, shale and deep sea that require huge outlays in capital and energy just to produce at the same rate. Some refer to this phenomenon as the Red Queen. There is still enough cheap oil sloshing around the world to keep prices low enough to continue to enslave the entire world economy for a while longer, but it is after all considerations still a finite resource. That will all be complicated as affordable non-fossil fuel alternatives come on-stream.

      The moral of this story? Get off of oil, not just because of climate change, particulate pollution and risk of spills, but to foster a more stable economy with predictable renewable energy that is distributed widely enough to counter manipulation by concentrated vested interests.

      1. IEA expects peak oil not before 2040 with “only” 300M EVs expected by IEA expecting only a demand reduction of 3.3M barrel of oil daily while peak oil is 106M/day, HIGHER than today ..

        “The IEA’s central scenario is for demand to grow by around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) on average every year to 2025, before settling at a steadier rate of 250,000 bpd to 2040 when it will peak at 106.3 million bpd. ”

        Bloomberg has a more EV rosy view of the world, and thus a somewhat steeper oil demand decline: “Growth rates will still be impressive, however. BNEF expects passenger EV sales to rise more than tenfold from 2 million worldwide in 2018 to 28 million in 2030 and 56 million by 2040. Meanwhile conventional passenger vehicle sales will more than halve to 42 million by 2040, from around 85 million in 2018.”
        yet others expect only about 1/3 of new cars to be EVs by 2040:

        I conclude: EVs will advance in market share but no one knows how fast. Likely faster in some regions than others. BC with 90%+ electricity from hydro and 60%+ of its cars in the Lower Mainland will likely have a far faster pickup than cold AB, SK or MB with vaster distances.

  5. The economy is what it is and it is always changing. There is no reason to think that renewable decentralized energy production will eliminate the forces of wealth concentration. Speculation like this does not matter and is not helpful. There is only one moral reason to get off oil and that is because of its deleterious effects on the biosphere and its various life forms many of which are going extinct before our very eyes.

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