Should I Buy an Electric Vehicle?

On The Road

Should I Buy an Electric Vehicle?

You unplug your car’s charger from the charging port, put it back on the wall, open the car door and slide behind the wheel. With your foot on the brake, you press the starter button. The engine doesn’t growl. It doesn’t even purr when it turns over. All you hear is the sound of silence as you drive your electronic vehicle (EV) out of the driveway onto the street. With no petrol fumes to threaten the environment, your conscience is clear.

EV ownership may be just a dream for some

If you live in an apartment or condo building that doesn’t have a charging area for EVs or plug-in hybrids, the above scenario may not be not for you. You will have to park that dream and keep on driving your gas-powered vehicle or settle for a plug-free hybrid that uses a gasoline engine to generate electric energy to power the car.

The EV market

There are EVs at every size, from subcompact to full-size SUVs, luxury sedans, even sports cars. While prices are starting to come down, be ready for a shock when you check the price tag. EVs cost at least $15,000 more than their gas-powered counterparts. If you live in B.C. or Quebec, your provincial government may offer incentives to help ease the sticker shock.

Most EVs come with a standard charging cable that plugs into the car and the wall socket in your garage. A full charge with a standard cable takes 18 hours.

A Level 2 charger gets your car fully charged in about five hours. Level 2 charging stations cost anywhere from $800 to $1,500. Installation is extra and must be done by a licensed electrician. Some provinces help out with subsidies here too. B.C., for example, offers a subsidy of up to $4,000 for charging station installations.

Replacing a battery pack will set you back upwards of $6,000. Most automakers will offer eight-year warranties for their batteries – though a longer warranty may drive up the price tag.

Save on operating costs

With gas prices soaring to upwards of $1.50 a litre, you’ll be laughing when you pass the pumps. A public charge can cost $2 an hour for a slow charge and $16 an hour for a quick one.

To travel 20,000 km a year in Quebec, for example, you will pay around $200 to $300. Assuming a liter of gas costs $1.35, you will need $1,600 to $2,400 a year to keep your car fueled in Quebec. But gas prices are unpredictable. They often go higher. So, if hydro rates and charging rates remain constant, driving an EV can shields you from fuel swings.

You will also save on oil changes because EVs don’t need any.

One study estimates routine maintenance costs are about one-third of the cost of maintenance for a gas-powered car because there are fewer parts that need servicing. Still, electronics-related service work must be done by a trained technician with specialized equipment. That could drive up some maintenance costs.

A good place to start calculating the dollars and cents of EV ownership versus hybrid and gas-powered vehicles is the ChargeHub EV Savings Calculator.

Interested in what your EV will bring at trade-in time? Canadian Black Book has a trade-in estimator. When considering what lies ahead, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that future trade-in values will depend on the availability of public recharging facilities that give EVs the mobility of gas-powered vehicles. If sales growth is lethargic, trade-in values could stall or dip.

Is there a cure for range anxiety?

 You may have more to fear than fear itself. Most EVs have a range of 200 km to 400 km on a full charge. As you go about your weekly drive, see where that takes you. Look around for recharging stations along your usual routes and check online resources. Right now, it seems that charging stations are not popping up like toadstools after the rain.

Get to know the folks who own EVs

For candid impressions of life at the wheel of an EV, speak to EV owners. The EV Owners Club website has a list of owners’ groups throughout Canada. Consider going to one of their events to learn more and to hear first-hand experiences.

Does EV ownership make dollars and sense?

 If you still have doubts about life at the wheel of an EV, try this: to ease your conscience, use your gas-powered buggy less and walk, bike of take public transit more.