Is an EV right for me?

As the technology associated with electric vehicles continues to develop, more Canadians are considering the switch to EVs.

It’s 2018 and while we might not have the flying cars predicted by The Jetsons, the automobile has come a long way – or has it?

The first cars invented in the 1830s were, in fact, electric. That is, until Henry Ford introduced his mass-produced, gasoline-powered Model T in 1908. While the original electric vehicles fell into disuse due to their lack of horsepower, and the ready availability of gasoline, these are arguments that no longer apply in 2018.

With climate change and the environment a concern for many, Canadian drivers are looking for alternatives. Car manufacturers are feeling the pressure to provide these options and offer more environmentally friendly vehicles to do their part to limit emissions. In 2017, EV sales in Canada increased by 68% over the previous year and in Ontario EV sales more than doubled with growth hitting 120% over 2016 sales. For the first time ever, sales in Ontario beat Quebec.  The only hold back on more sales is the speed vehicle manufacturers can make them.

So, how do EVs work?

EVs are divided into two main categories – battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs); of course there are also regular hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) but they do not plug into the grid like EVs do. BEVs produce no carbon dioxide or other emissions during operation. Quite simply, a BEV uses electricity to make the vehicle go. There are three main components to a BEV: a zero-emission electric motor, a series of batteries, and a non-conventional transmission that transfers the motor’s power to the wheels. While you are driving, you are using battery power; instrumentation on the dashboard will give you a reading on how much reserve power you have and will let you know when it is time to plug in. The charger can be plugged into a standard wall outlet like a toaster at home, or an available public or work charging station. PHEVs differ from BEVs in that they are not purely electric. The plug-in hybrid, as its name suggests, has a larger battery as well as an internal combustion engine. PHEVs are emissions-free only when operating in electric mode.  Each PHEV vehicle or manufacturer uses the battery support in different ways.

Why should I switch to electric?

Outside of the obvious environmental benefits of driving a zero- or low-emissions electric vehicle, on average annual fuel costs will be about one quarter as much as a conventional vehicle. EVs also use low-drag aerodynamic shapes, have reduced weight using highly advanced material technology, and they are a solid option for people who want to dramatically improve fuel efficiency, reduce fuel costs, and reduce emissions.

The majority of Canadians drive 50 km or less per day and most fully electric cars can travel about 120 to 200km on one charge. EVs also have regenerative braking technology which means when you brake or coast, power is gained and helps to recharge the batteries, plus save on brake life. Most EV owners find charging their vehicle at home overnight or at work during the day is sufficient to get to where they want to go and back all day.

Lastly, electric drives are substantially more efficient than combustion engines and provide almost all of their available torque from the instant you put your foot on the accelerator some of the fastest cars on the market are electrics. In terms of performance, gasoline vehicles are at most 25% efficient in using the fuel energy whereas EVs can be at least three times more efficient.

How will an EV impact my lifestyle?

The truth is, for most Canadians, the only impact on your currently lifestyle will be remembering to plug in your EV. While this may take a bit more thought and planning for extended road trips, Canada is invested in growing its electric vehicle infrastructure. Currently there are close to 7000 EV charging stations that help you keep moving from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, BC. The City of Ottawa currently has over 125 charging stations with more being built all the time.

EVs are quieter, more responsive and a smoother ride than a conventional vehicle and the elimination of greenhouse gases provides everyone with cleaner air and an improved environment. The benefits of EVs far outweigh the small life adjustments necessary, so consider EV for your next car, truck or SUV and enjoy the ride!