Pandemic puts spark in valet service

Local auto shop offers electric valet during COVID-19

By Steve Hubrecht

Your ride to and from the mechanic shop may have become a little more electrifying during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s because Cleanline has been renting the Columbia Valley Electric Vehicle Share program’s electric car to shuttle to and from the shop during the pandemic.

Since few people are car sharing during the pandemic, local environmental group Wildsight (which runs the share program) asked around to see if anybody was interested in renting the program’s vehicle, affectionately dubbed Sparky.

“At this point we had already started offering a valet service to customers, where we drive to their home, pick up their vehicle, bring it to Cleanline, do the work and return it to their home. This is a great way to maintain social distancing, but it means we are driving around a lot, burning fuel,” said Cleanline co-owner Steph Van de Kemp. “We decided to rent Sparky because this is a great way to lower our emissions and for our team to spend more time behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

Cleanline has been renting Sparky since the beginning of April, and Steph, her partner and fellow business co-owner Aaron Van de Kemp, and indeed the whole Cleanline crew has found the car a blast so far.

“(Aaron) and I love the car and wish we could drive it all the time. Aaron says it’s like driving a remote control car: peppy, easy to manoeuvre and just plain fun. We’re hoping our next vehicle will be electric,” said Van de Kemp. “Our customers are grateful for the valet service. Some of our customers are vulnerable to the virus and appreciate having the option to stay home. Many families are finding life a juggle these days: wrangling kids, cooking, Zoom calls, webinars, keeping the house in some kind of order and attempting to get work done. Getting your car to and from the shop is just another thing to add to that list. Our valet service takes care of the logistics.”

Van de Kemp adds she and Aaron love fixing cars, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that this passion for work is only one piece in the puzzle of life, and that, as Van de Kemp puts it: “cars are not that fun to talk to and kind of awkward to hug … We can’t wait to social-undistance. In the meantime, we’re in a state of constant calibration: adapting, tweaking and making adjustments with each new week.”

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