The ins and outs of owning an EV

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been a hot topic for the last little while; after all of this noise on the subject you might be left thinking to yourself “can they really compete with a regular gasoline vehicle?” The answer is yes. Yes they can.

Most people are aware of the environmental benefits of owning an EV, and in particular a battery electric vehicle (BEV) but the real question most are left with is “how much will this cost me?” While an EV does cost slightly more to purchase than a gasoline vehicle, at the moment, rebates often make them competitive to an equivalent gasoline vehicle. As the technology develops and EVs become more economical to produce, research suggests that within a few years EVs will become the cheaper option even without subsidies. It is also worth mentioning that, after purchasing an EV is when you will really experience the savings. The engines in EVs are much simpler and are designed to assist with braking the car. This means maintenance costs are much lower as the wear on the brakes is significantly less, and electric motors require less attention. They also do not require oil changes, transmissions or exhaust systems. Electric motors only have one moving part engines and break down far less; and EV batteries are designed to last the lifespan of the car. This is all, of course, dependent on the manufacturer, as well as where and how the car is used; but, all EVs come with significant warranties as well.

Looking for more savings? All research shows that for the same distance driven, electricity is much cheaper than gasoline.

Various studies suggest that even in a “worst case” scenario of charging your EV during peak times, the cost is half that of a gasoline vehicle. In “best case” scenarios – charging off peak – an EV costs 25% as much in “fuel” needs as a comparable gasoline vehicle. Interestingly, the savings are even more substantial if you invest in an electric SUV with the best case scenario costing 15% and the worst case only costing 30% as much as a gasoline SUV. Now that you know filling the electric car costs significantly less than filling a gasoline vehicle, you are probably wondering how far an EV can travel on one charge. The fact is that BEVs in the market now can get you at least 100km in the winter on one charge and in the summer the range on many typical EVs is 250-350km.  

This leads to a big question about EVs – particularly for Canadians. Can an EV handle winter driving? While battery performance will decrease in the winter months as some energy is needed to warm them up, along with heating the cabin and seats, the decrease in range varies between models and other factors. On average, range decreases 25-50% depending on how low the temperature gets; but, it is important to remember that gasoline vehicles also see a reduction in range. The biggest reduction for EVs comes from heating the cabin, which is something that impacts gas vehicles as well. The benefit of an EV is that it will start in winter compared to gasoline vehicles which sometimes need to be jumped in the dead of winter. EVs handle great because the vehicle weight is low to the ground and the motors are in the wheels. Winter tires are of course recommended for all vehicles, regardless of their engine. Even with the reduction in range, winter driving is possible on a single charge as the majority of Canadians drive 60 km or less per day.

With all of the advancements in technology and support from provincial governments to expand charging networks, owning an EV is becoming easier and easier – and more and more cost effective. Those drivers looking to help protect the environment should rest assured they can, and will not be sacrificing comfort or savings in purchasing an electric vehicle.