A Tale About Buying an Electric Car

There’s no place to buy a used Electric Vehicle in Regina, in 2017. This is a problem. It’s one I don’t have the ability to solve, but it affects me because I’m interested in helping people know how to get an electric car if they live in southern Saskatchewan.

There was a site my friend had directed me to, and it had less selection and higher prices than I was looking for. I started looking earlier this year, and the prices on Auto Trader, although better, were still a few too many thousands of dollars out of my price range. I put the project on hold until the new Nissan Leaf was set to be announced in early September. After patiently dealing with a sluggish salesperson for a couple days in Port Moody over phone-tag, I found a 2014 Leaf SV in Vancouver for $16000, with the features I was looking for, and put a $500 down payment on it easily by credit card. Then, the real difficulties began…

I bank with several different banks. The one with the money for the car is not a Big 5, but it’s owned by the Big 5. They don’t have a SWIFT code, which is apparently required to send money by wire transfer. It would have been at least 2 days to move the money to another bank, and $50 to wire it, or $10 to buy a bank draft and courier it to me. I chose the latter, and Purolator didn’t successfully leave me a notice of the delivery. I phoned the bank 3 days later asking what was going on, and they said it was already in Regina. The following morning I went to pick it up, and courier it to the auto dealer in Vancouver. That evening, I got word that my Dad had passed away.

The following week, I got a paper to sign and send back, which I did electronically, and was soon told the car would ship and be in Regina at Regina Honda by “mid-week”. When Wednesday rolled around, and I didn’t get a phone call, I got in touch with the sales person (who was the 2nd I dealt with, as the first one left employment at the Vancouver dealer in the meantime). They noted the car hadn’t been picked up by the shipping company yet! They got a new promise of 7-10 days from the following day when it would be picked up, he assured me. I suggested a partial refund of $200 may be in order. He and his manager were not eager to make such a deal.

Day 10 was about to roll around, so I called to get some facts, and they said it was set to be delivered on Monday. I was hoping for the Friday, but close enough. On Monday, no phone call arrived. I called the Regina Dealer, to check it hadn’t been dropped off, and it hadn’t. The Vancouver sales person emailed the shipping company and asked them to contact me with what happened. They suggested that they hoped it would be in Regina a week later!

I was not pleased. I suggested that was unacceptable. My salesperson agreed, and also demanded better of the shipping company Car-Fre’.

3 and a half weeks waiting for it to arrive was too long. The dealer/shipper missed 2 self-imposed delivery dates. The Port Moody dealer finally admitted they were taking too long, and promised a $500 refund of the $1000 to ship it, which I happily accepted.

It arrived October 19, 2017, at Regina Honda on Broad St. The truck operator unloaded it, it was conveniently placed at the back of the semi trailer. I went to Galon Insurance down the street, they collected the PST, the conditional 28 day registration, gave me a plate, and I bought an AutoPak from SMI, it was about $40 less than SGI’s. I didn’t have a wrench with me to get the new plate on, so a salesperson at Regina Honda helped me out. As we walked to the vehicle, they asked why we didn’t buy directly from them, “You don’t sell it, unfortunately.”

I got back to work, and parking was temporarily free in the lot I picked, BONUS! It should be free-ish for EVs anyway, at this point in Regina’s history, at least until they become much more common.

I’d hoped to be able to offer a template to others so they could copy my experience, but it’s better if they don’t. While the Port Moody Honda dealer eventually made things better with the partial shipping refund, they weren’t really keen on shipping out of province, and only do it a few times a year.

The shipping company dropped the ball completely. They only came through at the end because an auto-dealer lit a fire under their butts. Their latest review on Yellowpages was from another unhappy customer. If your expectation is that it’ll arrive sometime long after promised, they’re good enough. If you want it the same month, try another method.

If you’ve enough money for a new car, a more immediate method of getting an EV to Regina would be to buy one at Evergreen Nissan in Prince Albert. It’s 400km away though, so you’ll still need to ship it, or take a full day or two to drive it down to Regina. Maybe Regina Nissan will catch on, or be dragged into the future not too long from me writing this.

UPDATE: The PST and shipping refunds arrived at the end of October by mail.

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2 responses to “A Tale About Buying an Electric Car

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