Electric Vehicles 101

 

Live the electric life. Get started here if you are shopping for an electric vehicle, have recently purchased one, or are just looking for more information.

Our EV 101 page introduces the electric driving experience, types of electric vehicles, tips for shopping, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Electric vehicles are going mainstream in BC. Chances are, you already know someone who drives one. EV owners all over the province have discovered that they really make sense in BC. We’ve collected the must-know info about going electric here and you will probably want to follow up with our charging guide. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, send us an email at info@pluginbc.ca

A New and Better Driving Experience

Electric cars are fun to drive! All electric vehicles have “instant torque” and smooth acceleration because they don’t need to “rev up” or shift gears, make for a refreshing and exhilarating ride. Electric motors are very powerful, despite their compact size. For example:

  • The common Tesla Model 3 SR+ can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 5.6 seconds;
  • The ordinary Hyundai Kona EV has 201 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque;
  • Toyota’s upcoming RAV4 Prime is the fastest RAV4 ever, and the second fastest vehicle Toyota makes.

Electric vehicles have great handling too. Their batteries are evenly distributed along the bottom of their chassis, giving them a low centre-of-gravity control in tight corners.

They also use regenerative braking. When you ease up on the accelerator, the electric motor provides resistance which slows the car down and generates power at the same time. “Regen” braking helps to slow the vehicle very quickly, but very smoothly too.

Since electric vehicles get rid of complicated engines and transmissions, they have much less vibration. Plus, they won’t be burning oil or leaving trails of exhaust fumes when the going gets tough.

It can be strange at first: driving a vehicle without sound, shifting or vibrations. But you’ll soon come to think of it as the way driving should be. The really strange thing is having to get out of an electric vehicle and go back to gas.

Spend Less on Driving

An electric vehicle can help you save on both fuel and maintenance costs. When charging at home (where most charging happens), you can expect an electricity cost of $2-4 for every 100km you drive. That’s way less expensive than gas! If you have a long daily commute, you should seriously be looking at an electric vehicle. The more you need to drive, the bigger an impact these savings will make.

Electric vehicles eliminate complicated engines and transmissions, so you don’t need to worry about spark plugs, oil changes, belts and hoses. Your brake pads and rotors will even last longer because the motor provides resistance (and makes electricity) through “regenerative braking.”

Resources:

Total Cost of Ownership

Buying and Owning an Electric Vehicle

Better for Our Environment

Electric vehicles are super efficient, plus they don’t idle and they use regenerative braking to actually make electricity when they slow down or descend a hill.

Switching to an electric vehicle comes with big benefits to the environment, especially in BC, where most our electricity comes from hydro. Here, the electricity to power an electric vehicle will produce 99% fewer emissions than the exhaust of a gas vehicle.

Manufacturing big battery packs for modern electric cars requires energy, so there is an upfront emissions cost. But those emissions are declining as more electrical grids around the world become cleaner and manufacturers become more efficient.

Even accounting for manufacturing, including batteries, an EV in BC will only produce about 25% of the emissions that a gas vehicle would over its lifetime.

Not every province has hydro electricity, but studies have repeatedly shown that electric vehicles produce fewer emissions than gas cars regardless of how the electricity is produced. EVs are just that efficient. Even in a coal-powered electrical grid, accounting for the energy to make batteries, an EV is still better than a gas vehicle. As those grids switch to renewable energy, all the electric vehicles there provide the benefit of even cleaner transportation.

Vehicle batteries are lasting longer than originally projected, and when they are no longer suitable for powering an electric car, they can be repurposed in other energy storage applications before being recycled. The battery industry has made huge advancements in battery durability and recycling since the first electric vehicles hit the streets.

Resources

Electric Vehicles as Part of Canada’s Climate Change Solution

Decreased Emissions from Battery Production

Getting Where You’re Going

Electric cars can go the distance. BC drivers are using them to commute and take road trips all over the province. Most electric cars have a range of 300-600km per charge (For reference: most of us drive an average of 50km a day).

Most charging occurs at home, but BC also has a rapidly growing network of public charging stations with over 2,000 stations, including well over 100 fast charging stations.

Resources

Find charging stations with PlugShare or BC Hydro EV.

Know which plug type you have;

Sign up for a service network;

Learn about charging station etiquette.

Bring on Winter

BC drivers have been using electric vehicles in winter conditions all over the province. Electric vehicles have some clear advantages when it comes to winter driving. An electric motor doesn’t need to push cold engine oil, so it won’t struggle to “turn over” in freezing temperatures. You can also preheat your electric vehicle (or keep it warm during a short stop) without wasteful idling. While electric vehicles handle really well, some even have multiple motors to provide advanced AWD.

It’s no revelation that winter conditions require a vehicle to expend more energy, and furthermore cold weather can impact battery performance. Auto makers have been quick to respond with better battery management systems, specific “winter modes,” and larger batteries.

Resources

Emotive Electric Winters in BC

To what degree does temperature impact EV range?

Types and Variety of Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles are going mainstream in BC. Auto makers are developing more variety of electric vehicles, from commuter cars to trucks and vans.

Electric vehicle types

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle – These cars have big batteries that store power to make you go. The only fuel is electricity! “Refueling” is done by plugging them into an outlet at home or to a charging station while you run errands. BEVs can help you save on maintenance and fuel!

PHEV – Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle – Looking for more flexibility? Plug in Hybrids have both an electric motor powered by a battery and a gas engine fueled by a conventional gas tank. You’ll find two different fueling ports on these vehicles, one to plug in to a charger and one to fill up at a gas station.

FCEV – Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle – These electric vehicles are propelled with the power of Hydrogen! Instead of a battery, fuel cell vehicles take supercooled hydrogen fuel and transform it into electricity onboard the vehicle. Hydrogen fuel can be found at specialized re-fueling stations and takes just minutes to fill the tank.

Electric Vehicles Available in BC

Emotive produces a booklet of electric vehicles that you can buy in BC. Take a look at the growing variety of EVs available.

Want to order print versions of this booklet to share in your community? Email info@pluginbc.ca

Shopping for an Electric Vehicle

BC’s Zero Emissions-Vehicle Act requires more new vehicles to be zero-emission, which means that the number of certified electric vehicle dealerships is growing and manufacturers are designing models for all different types of lifestyles, including trucks and SUVs. The future is very electric.

Shopping for an EV is much like searching for a regular car. Make sure you’re doing your homework and finding the vehicle that is right for you. There are both government and private industry incentives for buying vehicles and installing home charging stations. See what’s currently available on our incentives page.

Things to consider when shopping for an electric vehicle:

Are you able to charge at home?

All EVs come with a “trickle charge” cable that can use a regular wall outlet. Many drivers opt to install a 240v home charging station. If you live in a multi-unit residential building, double check that a charging station is either available or possible to install.

How far do you normally drive?

You may not need the highest range EV on the market – or consider a plug-in hybrid that can cover most of your daily commuting on battery power before switching to regular hybrid mode when necessary.

Are you planning to buy a Tesla?

You will have access to the Tesla Supercharger network, but you will only be able to use other fast-charging stations if you buy a CHAdeMO adapter.

You can plan your electric life with a couple helpful websites/apps:

Find public charging stations with PlugShare. You can filter the plug types and view details about specific charging stations, including helpful notes left by other drivers. Even better, you can create an account and assign yourself a specific vehicle to automatically filter out anything you can’t use. Keep in mind that charging stations are being added constantly. PlugShare even lets you see locations of stations that are coming soon.

A Better Route Planner is a trip planning tool that calculates the best places for you to charge based on your vehicle type and your destination. It shows you how long it will take you to get where you’re going and how much it will cost. You can really nerd out by changing options for weather, road conditions, and more.

Used electric vehicles are readily available now.

Used EV dealerships are popping up in BC, and online classifieds like CarGurus, AutoTrader and Kijiji have a  “Fuel Type” filter so you can browse EVs.

We’re here for you. Send your EV questions to info@pluginbc.ca

Resources:

CEVforBC Zero-Emission Vehicle Dealerships

ZEV mandate in BC

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the range of an electric vehicle?

Most new fully electric vehicles travel 300 to 600km per charge. Plus, BC has a rapidly expanding network of public charging stations. Plug-in hybrids have smaller batteries to cover daily commuting and can transition to gas/electric hybrid mode beyond that. You can see the variety of electric vehicles and their battery ranges in Emotive’s EV brochure.

Where are the charging stations?

The best way to find public charging stations is by using websites/apps like PlugShare, or BC Hydro EV. You can filter for station types (more on that below), see charging station status in real-time, and see user feedback.

How long does charging take?

A vehicle’s charging speed depends the size of its battery, its charging capability, and how powerful the charging station is. Some quick guidelines are listed below, and you can read more on our public charging page.

Level 3
These are fast chargers, also known as Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs), or in the case of Tesla, Superchargers. On average, it would take about an hour to charge from completely empty to 100%. Most fast charging stations require a “service network account,” and EV etiquette is important at these stations as well.

Level 2
Most charging occurs at home, and this is probably what you will be using there. These charging stations are smaller than fast chargers and use a 240v connection. Aside from homes, they are commonly found at community centres, parks, offices, shopping malls, hospitals, schools, rest areas – pretty much everywhere. They add 30-40km of range per hour, so you can recover your daily driving range in a couple hours.

Level 1
Every electric vehicle comes with a “trickle charge” cable that can plug into a regular 110v wall outlet. This will provide around 8km of range per hour, so it can be used used to recover daily driving range while at work or home.

Connect with EV Owners