Thinking of going EV? There are Ground Rules
If the EV age wasn’t here already, you just really get the sense that it’s imminent. Charging networks are expanding the world over, more and more manufacturers are getting on the “100 per cent electrification by 202X” train and with incentives continuing to reign is some Canadian Provinces, it seems the time has never been more right to get an battery-electric (read: full-EV) vehicle or a plug-in hybrid.
Before you do, though, there are some things worth understanding. We spent a month driving various EVs and PHEVs and speaking with current owners to see what bugaboos you need to be prepared for.
DO: your home charger research
Of course, home chargers typically aren’t free, even when purchased at the dealer alongside your EV. They can cost upwards of $1,000, but in B.C., there are rebates available that can be applied to both the charger and installation cost. These can range from $350 for a detached home, and up to $14,000 if a condo developer wants to install charge stations there. In Quebec, homeowners can qualify for up to $600 in rebates against the cost of their charger. Buyers are encouraged to seek out a certified electrician who has completed the electric vehicle infrastructure-training program. It’s also not a guarantee that your home’s “grid” can support a 240V conduit, so you need contact your local power authority to ensure that it’s possible.
DO: know your charge network
This is where it really starts to get interesting in the EV world. Recently, Petro-Canada completed the first stage of a Canada-wide charging network. Dubbed “Canada’s Electric Highway”, the goal was to essentially allow consumers to cross Canada – the Eastern-most location is in Stewiacke, N.S. and the westernmost is in Victorian, B.C. – with no more than 250 km between charge spots and their 57 charge locations have sealed the deal. Electrify Canada is another group developing their own network, and have entered into partnerships with various manufacturers which will allow owners to offset some charge costs.
Wait. What charge costs?
DON’T: assume there are only free lunches
It’s great that these companies have developed these networks but they do cost big money – we’re talking six-figure installation costs, here – and that investment has to be recouped. So, “filling up” at these stations does cost, and it’s based on how long you leave your vehicle plugged in for. In Electrify Canada’s case, if your charge returns 1-90 kW (kW being the measurement for the amount of power you’re adding), you’re looking at $0.27 per minute of charge, and $0.21 per minute if you pay a monthly $4.00 fee for what Electrify Canada calls an “e Pass +” Petro-Canada, on the other hand, is affected by an area’s energy cost so their charge costs range from $0.20 per minute in Quebec, to $0.33 per minute in Ontario and Alberta, where energy costs are the highest in Canada.
Of course, lest we forget: EVs and PHEVs are fully able to be charged at home, depending on whether or not you have access to an outlet, or even a home EV 240V charger as these can greatly reduce charge times.
DO: ensure you know what type of alternatively-powered vehicle is right for you
Granted; on the surface, a full-EV vehicle is great. There are absolutely no gas charges, the drive is quiet and as EVs don’t tend to use traditional transmissions, they can be quite quick, too. Of course, it pays to remember that without the backup of a gas engine to either power the wheels or to generate power for the EV motors, you don’t really have a backup plan. Granted, EV ranges seem to be increasing by the day with the likes of Chevrolet at Tesla claiming upwards of 400 km and 500 km, respectively, for their EVs but that does depend on the conditions in which you’re driving. If you’re a one-car household that likes to take long road trips, then a full-EV may not be the best choice for you.
Better you decide to go with something like a PHEV that offers full-EV range for short (usually around 70 km) distances but has a gas engine to help you out should your juice run low.
DO: know your incentives
The government of Canada offers a $5,000 incentive on battery-electric vehicles while PHEVs qualify for a $2,500 rebate. If your vehicle seats six or less and has a base price lower than $45,000 (except for select cases where higher trims are allowed to hit $55,000) you are eligible for incentives. Vehicles that seat seven or more are given a max base price of $55,000, while higher trims are allowed to reach $60,000 and still be eligible.
In addition to that certain Provinces also offer incentives; British Columbia offers $3,000 back on EVs and hydrogen-electric vehicles, while PHEVs are eligible for a $1,500 rebate. Quebec residents, meanwhile, can get up to $8,000 off depending on the vehicle’s battery capacity and if the MSRP is less than $60,000.