Electric Vehicles – the Basics
First introduced in 1884, the modern electric vehicle (EV) is simply a vehicle with a different ‘fuel’ source that is driven by one or more electric motors. EVs are zero emission, quieter, have instant torque and speed, are much cheaper to operate and fun to drive. EVs include semi-electric plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles.
- Current fully electric range: 175 – 1,000 kms. Predicted Future Range: 1,500+ kms. GM recently reported that most people are comfortable with 475 kms. of range. Canadians travel an av. of 41 kms/day (Natural Resources Canada).
- Batteries are improving – becoming cheaper, lighter and more powerful. New batteries include solid state, Cobalt-free and other types. Lithium-ion batteries will soon be 90% recyclable.
- EVs include every type of vehicle – sedans, SUVs, crossovers, minivans, trucks of all types/sizes, buses and motorcycles. Trains, watercraft, aircraft and snowmobiles are also being electrified.
- 75 EVs are available today (400 more vehicles expected by 2025).
- The ‘game-changer’ – soon, the cost of EVs will be similar to gas/diesel-powered vehicles. Increased competition will be key to lower prices.
- In Canada, EVs cost an average of $2,000/year LESS for fuel + have MUCH lower maintenance costs. Electricity costs are about 1/5 that of gasoline. EVs are very durable, with 99.9% fewer moving parts, and electric motors and batteries that are expected to last 0.8 – 1.6 million kms – and at least 16 years.
Charging Electric Vehicles
- 80-90% of charging takes place at home and/or work, so it’s critical to greatly increase charging infrastructure in existing and new multi-unit housing where it’s most often not available and there’s often resistance to make the investment.
- Public charging infrastructure is equally important. According to Natural Resources Canada, there are 6,016+ charging stations (13,230+ charge points, with 2,264+ being direct current (DC) fast chargers). Over the next decade, $billions are committed to continue to expand the national network.
- Public Charging: The highest kW DC fast chargers provide up to 320 kms. of range in 10 minutes. However, many EVs can’t yet charge that fast – typically, taking 30-45 mins. to charge from 10% to 80%. Level 2 destination chargers (240-volt) provide about 35 kms. of range/hr., which is great for home-/work-based charging and other places where people spend some time (restaurants, shopping malls, parks, parking lots and hotels).
- Major highways and populated areas are pretty well serviced. The TransCanada Highway is now fully electrified (principally by Tesla and Petro Canada).
The Auto Industry is Increasing its Commitment to EVs
- Encouraged by stricter quotas, purchase incentives and investments from governments, hundreds of $billions are being committed by automakers worldwide over the next 5 years for EV development. All major automakers are moving toward electrification – some very quickly.
- VW/Audi Group – 75 EV models across all brands by 2029 (investing $50B by 2025)
- Nissan/Renault – 20-30% of fleet to be electric by 2025
- Ford – Investing $29B by 2025; all electric in Europe by 2030
- GM – Investing $27 billion by 2025; all light-duty vehicles electric by 2035
- Hyundai – 1 million EVs/year and 23 models by 2025
- Jaguar – Fully electric by 2025
- Volvo – 1 million EVs on the road by 2025
- For economic, environmental and health reasons, fleets will be the fastest adopters of EVs (taxis, ridesharing, delivery vehicles, school and transit buses, heavy-load trucks, rental trucks and cars, and rideshare). Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian. UPS ordered 5,000 electric delivery vans from a London England start-up. FedEx ordered 500 electric delivery vans from GM. To be competitive, others will follow.
Interest in Electric Vehicles is Gaining Momentum
- In 2020, 3.5% of Canadian auto sales were EVs (2.6% in 2019, 2.2% in 2018 and 0.58% in 2016).
- Global EV sales increased by 43% in 2020; 7+ million EVs on the road.
- Recently, Tesla produced their 1 millionth vehicle and pre-sold over 300,000 Model Ys. Tesla is now producing on 3 continents and is poised to release a $40,000 CND compact hatchback.
- Within a few years, most barriers to adoption should be overcome (range anxiety, purchase price, charging infrastructure & charging time lead the list).
- Many experts predict that EV sales will take off in 2-5 years, influenced mostly by the much lower cost to own and operate an EV by then.
- EV adoption is highest in British Columbia and Quebec where government policies and investments, as well as purchase incentives are strongest.
- An increasing number of jurisdictions and countries are banning the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2025 to 2035.
Four additional challenging barriers to EV adoption include:
- lack of accurate, up-to-date knowledge creating misleading myths about EVs,
- although improving, insufficient supply and choice of vehicles in all price categories,
- insufficient EV charging capability in multi-unit housing and easily accessible public charging for ‘garage orphans’, and
- insufficient public charging infrastructure, especially in less populated areas.
More details about EVs available in Ontario can be found here.
The list of electric vehicles available for the federal rebate can be found here.