Frequently Asked Questions

How far can you go on a charge?

Base model electric cars have a range of about 250km. The average North American driver drives 50km (29miles) per day. Range requirements are usually determined by the frequency of long distance, inter-city travel. For those who regularly depend on longer range trips, most manufacturers offer larger traction packs to get in the order of 400-500kms.
Plug-in hybrids, which rely on an on-board engine to supplement range typically have up to 60km range which provides enough for all electric daily driving but can go as far as you want on conventional gas and availability of gas stations. Owners of these hybrids do experience the downsides of any combustion car: oil changes, and increased maintenance and repairs over the life of the vehicle. In many cases they determine that all-electric works for them just fine, and on their next vehicle purchase, go all electric.

What happens if I run out of charge? Will I be stranded?

In practice, very few EV owners get stranded, just as few people run out of gas. The car shows you how much range you have left and you charge when you need to. But if despite that you do run out of power, all EV vendors have a number you can call and they will assist you, although this is a rare occasion. With more public charging stations being installed every month, the inconvenience of having to stop to charge before your destination is rare, indeed.

Where can I charge?

Most people charge at home. You can use a standard 110V outlet (Level 1) with the basic charger included with most electric models. If you have 220V service available to your garage from your home's electrical panel, you can charge at a "Level 2" rate - for most electrics, that's about 40km for an hour of charging, versus 8 km/hour for 110V.

More an more, employers are installing charging stations to encourage their employees to go electric and reduce their carbon footprint. Even just supplying Level 1 outlets is suitable for employees. In 8 hours that's about 64km range, and more than the average North American daily driver drives.

Finally, you can charge at a public charging station. The Plugshare website is a terrific source of information on the location of public chargers.

How much does it cost to charge?

In British Columbia, the top tier residential hydro rate, with taxes, is about $0.14 per kWh (2020). If you drive 1,500km per month your monthly cost will be in the order of $40 per month. In BC, that's about 1/5th the average cost of gasoline or diesel to power a similar size car the same distance. Now that public charging stations are in greater demand as electric car adoption accelerates some Cities in British Columbia began charging for electricity by the minute and/or KWh in 2019. Prices range from $1 per hour and up to $0.35 per kWh. The reason for this is that charging stations and available spots are scarce resources. Charging for this on a time and/or combination of energy consumed is the most equitable way to pay for such infrastructure, and encourages users to take only what they need an move on to free up the spot for other EV owners requiring a charge. There are many public charging stations (over 1,000 in the Lower Mainland alone), for example at shopping malls and libraries, and some are still free.

What happens if I have to replace the battery?

First off, replacing the battery is not a regular event. The batteries are designed to have a long lifetime and all EV manufacturers provide warranties for their batteries, typically for 8 years.

Any degradation will happen very slowly over time and the batteries can be expected to be quite usable for many years.

But suppose you do have to replace the battery—what would that cost? It's still early days as very few traction batteries have reached their end of life. What is most likely is that battery refurbishment will be the first maintenance to be done prior to battery replacement. Battery refurbishment entails replacing the weakest cells in a pack to bring the total performance of the pack back up. Aside from auto dealers, third party businesses are now being formed that do this refurbishment work, or even battery replacement. Generally, the automobile manufacturers offer limited assistance under warranty for up to 8 years, or replacement, currently at premium prices.

Are electric cars safe?

Electric cars are some of the safest vehicles on the road. Gasoline cars are so common that accidents and fires involving them aren’t news even though they are very common. Electric cars don’t have carry a big tank of explosive liquid with them, and they are generally more crash-worthy because no gas engine means they have larger crumple zones.

You will hear about the occasional fire involving an electric car battery, but in reality that happens only in extreme circumstances. In the rare case when it does happen, a battery fire is slow-burning and you generally have lots of time to exit the vehicle safely.

What about the cost?

The total cost of an electric car over its lifetime is often less than that of a comparable gas car. They cost a bit more up front but you get that back in fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs. The details depend on which car you buy and what you are comparing it to. This Website shows a cost comparison between several popular electric cars and their gas-powered equivalents.

What electric cars are available in Canada?

Click on these site names to get a summary: Plug’n Drive, BCAA

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