Fuel prices in Canada have hit record highs in recent weeks and some experts think they could be here to stay.
With prices skyrocketing, some Canadians may be considering buying an electric vehicle for their next car purchase, something the Liberal government has planned in its federal budget released on Thursday. . Ottawa has committed $3 billion to make electric vehicles more affordable, including establishing a network of charging stations, and $3.8 billion to a mineral strategy, which includes key materials needed to manufactures batteries for electric vehicles.
For first-time electric car buyers, understanding the technology and costs involved in buying a car can seem daunting.
Here’s the expert advice Canadians need to know before buying a zero-emissions car.
COST AND RETURN
While more affordable options are starting to enter the market, electric vehicles typically cost more than most traditional gas-powered vehicles. While the initial price of an electric vehicle may shock some buyers, studies show that over time electric vehicle owners save more money than gas-powered car owners.
A report released on March 30 by Clean Energy Canada, a research group at the Simon Fraser University Dialogue Center, compared the cost of ownership of six popular electric vehicle models with the cost of ownership of equivalent gas-powered vehicles.
According to the report, even in Prince Edward Island – the province with the most expensive electricity – the price to fully charge a Chevy Bolt electric vehicle in 2022 is about 12.61 USD. In Quebec, the province with the lowest fees, a full charge on the same vehicle will cost around $5.46.
Mark Zacharias, special counsel for Clean Energy Canada, told CTV News Vancouver: “What we’ve found is that in each comparison, electric cars are cheaper than gas alternatives.
The study also notes that these estimates are conservative, based on the average price of gasoline in Canada in 2021, at $1.31 per liter. But with gas prices hitting $2 per liter in some parts of Canada by 2022, those savings could be even greater.
Tim Burrows, a volunteer who launched Mississauga, Ont. chapter of the Electric Vehicle Association and produces educational presentations and webinars on electric vehicle ownership, saying that worrying about the high cost of hydro is a misconception about owning electric vehicles.
“Electricity is an expensive thing in our lives,” says Burrows. “It’s a cost of living that nobody likes, but when you compare it to the cost of gas, it’s a bargain.”
A similar Consumer Reports study in 2020 also found that the lifetime savings of an electric vehicle owner is much larger than the savings of a gas car owner. According to research, a typical zero-emissions vehicle owner who regularly charges their batteries at home can save an average of $800 to $1,000 a year in fuel costs compared to a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle.
The study also found that maintenance and repair costs on a gasoline-powered vehicle are only half that of a gasoline-powered vehicle over the vehicle’s lifetime, which also increases the average resale value. the average of an electric vehicle compared to a gasoline-powered competitor.
Both studies note that government rebates can also aid buyers by reducing the initial cost of an electric vehicle, which Consumer Reports notes can be more expensive anywhere from 10% to 40% more than a similar petrol-only model. Reimbursements are available federally in Canada, and many provinces offer discounts for an electric vehicle as well as for any charging equipment or home upgrades that may be needed.
Zero-emissions vehicles have been on the market for long enough that it’s possible to buy used electric cars to save money. In Canada, however, used models are in high demand and increasingly hard to find, with many new electric vehicles having supply chain problems.
But if you can buy a used car, Burrows says that in some jurisdictions in Canada, discounts also apply to used electric cars.
“It’s a question of affordability,” says Burrows. “But you can breathe easy knowing that you’ll be ahead of the game for the long haul.”
There are other ways to cut down on initial costs, such as choosing a smaller electric vehicle model or one with a shorter range per full charge, but the buyer’s driving habits and needs will vary. influence these decisions.
When deciding which electric vehicle is right for you, Burrows says you should consider how often you drive and how far.
“It’s a bit like any car – ask yourself, ‘What am I using it for?’,” says Burrows.
For those who don’t have to drive much, such as those who work from home or those who mainly use their car for short trips and errands, an electric model with a shorter range will suffice. and help save money. But drivers who regularly use their cars for longer periods of time will need to consider a few things when deciding which model to buy.
Road cyclists or long commuters will want to find a battery that will last longer to extend the distance you can go before you have to stop.
There are many types of electric cars. For example, Nissan advertises that its Leaf can run up to 363 km per full charge; Hyundai advertises that the Kona offers a range of up to 415 km; and Tesla advertise that the Model S offers a range of up to 637 km. Those estimates are typically calculated using the car’s peak performance, so motorists should expect a slightly lower range in real-world use.
Burrows also says that not all electric vehicles can take advantage of the speeds you can charge at a fast charging station, so frequent passersby should take charging speeds into account when choosing a model.
Car charging speed varies by vehicle model and battery health. Burrows says the first 70% of a battery’s charge tends to happen faster than the last 30%. But some models will even send an alert to your phone when you’ve got enough charge to reach your destination, meaning you don’t necessarily have to wait for a full charge before you hit the road again.
“You can easily run a few hundred kilometers in about 20 minutes, maybe less,” says Burrows. “It’s not like the old petrol car model, where you go to the gas station and fill up. You don’t have to do that… just grab what you need and hit the road.”
WINNER WEATHER TEST
When it comes to winter driving, Burrows says Canadian consumers should consider models with batteries that can handle colder temperatures without sacrificing your range.
Look for an electric vehicle with thermal management that will protect your battery from draining in cold temperatures, which can reduce how far you can go before it needs to be recharged.
“They work well – they’re 100% reliable, and the rest – but you need to think about the loss of range in the really extreme temperatures that we can get,” says Burrows. .
Thermal management also protects your battery from losing range if your battery gets hot during a quick charge or while driving long distances.
Before deciding on a model, Burrows recommends estimating how far you typically drive and using that to determine how far you’ll need your electric vehicle.
“What I say to people is, ‘Just do the math, and then if there’s room in the budget, you can buy a lot more,’” he said. “You won’t make the mistake of buying a little more. But that’s more peace of mind than anything.”
But Burrows added that for many drivers, the electric vehicle’s range isn’t cause for concern. Most people’s driving needs should be covered by the wide range of electric vehicles on the market, especially since you can conveniently fill up your car with gas every day at home, if needed.
“There is nothing to worry or fear,” he said. “That’s just the way technology works.”
CHARGING AT HOME
In some cases, charging your car at home can be as easy as plugging it in.
“You’re not going to charge it on one of these public chargers very often,” says Burrows. “You very rarely charge it anywhere but home because it’s so convenient. It only takes 10 seconds to plug it in and you can go on your business trip. You wake up every morning with a full battery.”
In some homes, Burrows says a standard outlet might be enough to charge your car — it’ll be slower than other charging setups, but the benefit is that you can leave it plugged in overnight.
For some older homes or those who want faster charging, an electrical system upgrade may be needed to support electric vehicles. Some homeowners may need to hire an electrician to install a 240-volt electrical outlet – like the one used for ovens and tumble dryers – where the car will be parked most often.
Depending on how many large appliances you have connected to the electrical panel in your home, such as a hot tub or generator, you may also need to upgrade your home’s electrical panel to accommodate everything. Burrows estimates these upgrades can cost between $1,500 and $2,000, but that depends on the amount of work required.
If your home needs any upgrades, some provinces offer discounts on home setup fees along with discounts on the vehicle itself.
If you rent your home or if you live in an apartment building or apartment building, there may be additional steps to consider when planning your car charge.
In Ontario, Burrows says there are formal, documented steps to submitting a request to your condo board for what you need to charge your car. The apartment boards in the province are obligated to review your request and if they deny it, they must provide proof at their own expense from a specialist that your vehicle cannot be provided. friend. Regulations may vary in other provinces and territories, so buyers should check with their local condominium or tenant authority.
But regardless of whether you own a home or an apartment, any upgrades or installations you have to pay to charge your electric vehicle can increase your property’s value at resale, says Burrows, This can help you offset the cost.
Finding a place to charge your car at home can be more difficult if you’re a renter, Burrows says, but added that forward-thinking homeowners might consider installing a few shared charging stations for those in need. rent a used building.
Otherwise, tenants may need to rely on public charging stations, says Burrows. Going to a charging station isn’t much different from what gas truck drivers have to do today, and although the toll at a public station can be a bit more expensive than you’d pay at home, it’s still only a fraction of the cost. small compared to the cost of fuel.
NEW TECHNOLOGY APPLICATION
As with any new technology, some of these considerations can be daunting for scooter drivers.
“It’s scary for everyone because we all grew up with gas and internal combustion engines,” he said. “And there are people who don’t like technology, and they don’t like smartphones.”
But Burrows said many worries about switching to electric vehicles are based on misconceptions and myths.
“There’s a learning curve, but it’s not scary,” says Burrows. “They’re fun. The torque and all that is amazing. It’s quiet. And then the icing on the cake is the environmental aspect of it.”
With files by Tom Yun, Rachel Aiello and Angela Jung.