LETTERS: Opinions split on electric vehicles for all

A large number of emailed letters were received this week concerning a column published last weekend by Norris McDonald entitled, “Electric cars for everyone? Most people aren’t buying.”

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A large number of emailed letters were received this week concerning a column published last weekend by Norris McDonald entitled, “Electric cars for everyone? Most people aren’t buying.” Here is a representative sample.

Your piece about electric cars was spot-on.

I will buy an electric car when it can meet the standards set by my 2012 Matrix (and lots of other cars in its class)

Cost: $20,000-$22,000

Summer Range: 600-plus kilometres

Fill-up time: 5 minutes

With lots of heat in the winter.

At 2,800-lbs., it’s a great little tow car behind my motorhome. And it opens up for a large amount of cargo.

Jim Hair, Picton

Another excellent article about electric cars.

However, the idealist in me says that we must “encourage” development of EV technology or we may face a grim urban future. The EV has always been touted as an urban vehicle. That’s where the future lies. Not for trips to Nova Scotia, eh?

Having said that, we drive a 2016 Hyundai Elantra. On a recent trip totaling a bit over 300 miles, we achieved 46.2 mpg. (U.S. roots, okay?) Not sure if we will replicate that any time soon as my Shotgun Seat passenger kept complaining: “Can’t you drive a little faster?” Note that I was at the posted speed limit.

EVs have a future in Canada!

Ron Guido, Emsdale, Ont.

Thanks for stating that the best use for electric cars at this time is local trips.

To that end, I believe that more electric cars would be purchased if:

— Low-speed vehicles were allowed in Ontario.

— Free, Level 1 chargers were installed at public buildings such as government offices, libraries,

schools, community centres, parks, NGOs, etc. Solar panels should be included at these locations to help offset the power demand of the charging. Similarly, if Level 1 chargers were installed at businesses, shopping centres, apartments, condos and employee parking lots. Level 1 chargers would more than suffice since we are talking about local trips and longer-term parking,

a low power demand, low impact on the grid and a low capital cost.

— Electric bills were reformed so that there would be only one charge and it would be based on a

usage and time-of-use system.

Your article made me laugh. Our government thinks we will all be driving EVs by 2024?

If they truly wanted to do something, they would create an Electricity Policy that would encourage low-cost hydro instead of one of the highest in North America.

I don’t understand why we don’t just burn Natural Gas for electricity. It is cheap, clean fuel and it’s cheap to operate a gas plant. Nuclear is hugely expensive and what do you do with the waste?

We keep hearing Canadians have a high carbon footprint but if you factored carbon per sq km we would be the lowest in the world with the amount of trees and greenery that we have producing oxygen.

Murray Kibler, Toronto

Internal combustion engines, or smokers (we can call them that), are an end game. We have a moral obligation to leave the planet in the same or better shape than we received it. To do anything else is incredibly selfish. How could we possibly want to do that to our grandchildren?

You talk about the cost of electricity and EVs but the cost of ICE and coal-burning power plants must include the cost of the destruction of the planet. Can we afford the burning forests, the loss of Arctic ice? Can Americans afford to lose Manhattan, Miami and half of Florida? All of these costs must be added to get the true cost of fossil fuels. Not choosing an EV when EVs are available is immoral.

You mention recycling. Recycling is also government subsidized. But it’s the right thing to do. I just returned from a trip to Central America — beautiful countries buried in a sea of plastic garbage.

It’s sad. It’s depressing. And it’s totally preventable.

Kevin Dunbar, Renfrew

Simple answer to all of your concerns: buy a Volt. At least 80 per cent of all your driving will be all-electric and no range anxiety.

I get it, no one cares about EVs or climate change, but there was opposition and grumbling to plenty of things that government went ahead with in the past, like recycling, seat belts, smoking, bailing out car companies with loans, etc.

There is a huge oil lobby that is fighting EVs. I welcome the government initiatives and they are not the only government doing it. Governments have provided incentives to various industries in the past, including big oil. This is just another.

Give a Volt a spin. It covers all your commuting via battery and lets you do that drive to Nova Scotia as well.

Doug Grittani, Oakville

Auto reviewers have done great work in the past reporting on the strengths and weaknesses of the offerings from vehicle manufacturers, which has led to vastly improved products, safety, and owner satisfaction.

But it is time for all auto reviewers to face the new reality. Climate change is already threatening the biosphere and is already upon us. The ability to make a gradual transition to renewables in the transportation sector died more than 12 years ago when GM, aided and abetted by the oil industry, killed the EV1.

Now, only a global mobilization effort to reducing CO2 emissions has any prospect of slowing the temperature increases that are already resulting in; more frequent and more extreme weather events, droughts, bleaching of the coral reefs and the locking-in of further sea-level rises that will flood coastal communities making them uninhabitable.

All sectors need to contribute to CO2 reductions, but the sector with the most immediate opportunities for significant reductions is the transportation sector. And in this sector, auto manufacturers and their reviewers cannot totally shield themselves from responsibility by pointing to the oil and gas sector. After all, it is the automobile that converts fossil-fuels to CO2.

Only plug-in (battery and plug-in hybrid) autos should receive satisfactory ratings and the highest points should be given to all-electric driving range and the suitability of each vehicle for various climate conditions. All other light duty vehicles should be rated as unsatisfactory products, too dangerous for the biosphere.

This will take courage and the self-realization that it is the only moral and ethical path forward. To do otherwise is for auto reviewers to seal their fate as modern day versions of tobacco salesmen.

For all of us, and for future generations, it is hoped that auto reviewers will make the right choice.

I would urge you to consider catching up on the technology if you plan to continue to comment on it:

— Whereas heating requirements have considerable impact on driving range, A/C not so much.

— PHEVs are the answer until longer range EVs are the norm and would significantly cut total CO2 emissions in the meantime.

— Oil and gas subsidies world-wide are $5-trillion a year. EV sales are increasing more slowly because gas price does not include its real cost. Since it is politically toxic to price gas at its true cost, one of the only tools left is short term EV subsidies until EV vehicle costs are equal to combustion car costs by about 2024.

— Manufacturers continue to emphasize SUVs, large motor size, power, speed, in their ads that shape consumer preferences, then falsely claim it is what the consumer wants.

— Manufacturers struggle or simply do not place EV ads because the main selling feature of an EV is the total opposite of their other products

— Tesla has no ads and pre-sold 400,000 cars in two weeks

— Cost benefit comparisons or payback periods are falsely applied and misleading. The cost of climate change with the flooding of coastal cities is infinite, therefore the long term damage that is being done now (as CO2 lingers for decades) is infinite, therefore “payback periods” that ignore the final outcome (loss of the biosphere) are irrelevant

— Including anecdotal stories of EV experiences such as not getting a full charge is disingenuous

— Suggesting that there will be battery swapping stations is a clear indicator that you are way, way behind in this field

— As for the view that you will not consider a PHEV and are not willing to have a rest break every three hours for 30 minutes, once or twice a year, to help save the biosphere — well, that is plain selfish. It takes me six seconds to plug in my EV every other night and I wake up with a full “tank” every morning.

Jim Hindson, Victoria, B.C.

Wow! You nailed it to the outhouse door. I am 69, so please forgive my taking license of expressions.

While in G-1X, 1960-1961, my science teacher really had a class of what-ifs. Mr. G. introduced physics to us losers. So he challenged us under F=MA to respond.

Well, he forced me to push a rope up an incline. So I said, as I sat in the front, you can pull it up for all I care.

Oh, there was deadly silence all around but I gave the right answer. It was Mr. G. at PECI that gave me the resolve to actually get my act together and get rerouted into the accelerated program with the view of taking G-X111.

And I did and blew that too, but it all ended well and I learned never to screw about with the principles of physics, especially in the corners. I finally graduated in Agricultural Science from OAC in 1972, taking the “longo way home” to the pharmaceutical industry.

Now, I am taking licence here but no one can push a rope up a hill but they can pull it.

Your article attests to the various governments who think they can fool physics by telling us to push their rope-like agendas uphill. Clearly your article is a breath of reality. I would go with the Dodge Boys first before being forced to push Wynne’s agenda uphill.

Indeed, you are a breath of fresh air. Get the ON government out of the electric car business and maybe into repair the roads-first business. Perhaps public servants and service sector employees should plug in at home (or pay the meter at work — see England, and paying for heat a long time ago) instead of plugging in at the public free workplace we all pay for with hydro rates soaring. And really defeating the purpose of the average Joe thinking about recharging his Volt at his/her own home, his neighbor recently buying a doberman.

Or failing that scenario, I am sure the police will see the meter running too hard and stake out the house, thinking it’s a grow-op.

Anyway, wow! Just a breath of reality and fresh air to boot. And I am out of electricity and again applaud your article as necessary to give the big picture. There are many “whats” we need to ask first, starting with why this government seems on most issues to be always pushing uphill.

Clearly, F=ma is not in their formula for ALL Ontarians to be participants.

Paul MacArthur, Oshawa

The Government of Ontario is doing the correct thing for the environment, because the battery powered electric cars do not breathe any air and convert it to carbon dioxide.

Electric Cars use electrical energy produced in Ontario, not OIL imported from people that do not like us.

In Quebec and in B.C., more than 90 per cent of the electrical energy is produced from Hydro dams.

BP once published the amount of electric energy that their British refinery used in a year to create gasoline, but that information can no longer be found anywhere.

If I remember correctly, it would charge an amazing number of battery powered cars.

Total Cost of Ownership of any car must include the fuelling costs over its life span and the fuelling costs for a battery powered electric vehicle are one-fifth the costs of a gasoline powered vehicle.

BEVs are not only faster but much smoother in their operation, which results in a quieter ride.

More than 400,000 people world-wide have loaned Tesla Motors $1,000 each to be able to purchase the Tesla Model 3 when it is produced.

Not even the 1964 Ford Mustang had that many people order the original car.

With this in mind, your statement that the public does not want to buy BEVs is false.

The public has proven that they want to buy Tesla-manufactured BEVs, not the compliance cars that they have been offered from the existing ICE vehicle manufacturers.

Bruce Stout, North Vancouver, B.C.

Thanks for your article!

If I understand the situation, there are only a few stumbling blocks to us all having electric cars:

— battery disposal (and it’s less than green impact)

— finding work for those displaced when we no longer need gas stations and so forth

— retrofitting repair shops to handle this … oh, and training the mechanics

— ramping up the power grid

— revising the already somewhat broken management of electrical billing to handle things like condo stations, peak hours.

— dealing with power drain from subzero winters and increasingly warm summers

— putting many charging stations in remote areas (say, the North)

— charging times (for example, at highway service centres)

— retooling all those non-electric automotive production lines

— phasing out all the ethanol production

— convincing the military they don’t need gas

The government has probably done cost-benefit analysis on all this . . . ya think?

Ian Thurston, Barrie

While I agree with you that the recharging of pure battery EVs (or BEVs) is still a challenge, such that they perhaps are still only being adopted by a niche group, I was disappointed that your article was — for the most part — so negative.

You missed pointing out the genius of extended-range EVs – EREVs — such as the Chevy Volt. They essentially are your two cars in one. Electric for the most part and gas when you want to go farther or longer.

I have owned my Volt for three years now and have reduced my gasoline consumption by 90 per cent while still using the same car to travel to Montreal, Ottawa, Barrie and Hamilton. I am planning to go to Pennsylvania this summer — without worry.

On average, I fill up maybe once per month. In the winter, when heating does tend to draw a lot of battery power, and the typical Canadian winter is below zero, the gas engine kicks in for 3-5 minutes and then it’s off again to continue to run on battery.

This seems to be an ideal way to significantly reduce vehicle emissions now while the technology catches up.

Full disclosure: I am not in any way affiliated with GM.

Ed Huth, East Garafraxa, Ont.

Al Roffey, Scarborough

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