Like many of you, my family plans to buy an electric car.
I asked for your electric car questions and you came through! Here are answers from Steve Kux, David Suzuki Foundation renewable energy and climate solutions policy analyst:
How much do EVs cost?
Prices vary depending on battery size, make, model and options. They start at about $16,000 for a smart EV with a battery range of around 110 kilometres, to $100,000-plus for a fully equipped luxury model. The Nissan Leaf starts at about $32,000 — before subtracting government incentives — with a range of up to 172 kilometres. The first EV with mass consumer appeal is anticipated to be the Chevrolet Bolt EV (sales start in 2017). It starts at almost $43,000 with a range of 383 kilometres.
What's the lifespan of an EV battery?
Most manufacturers offer a warranty on their batteries for 10 years. Warranties guarantee that the range will not degrade significantly. EVs use lithium ion batteries like those found in laptops and cellphones. Over time, performance can become an issue if batteries are routinely overcharged or completely drained. Most manufacturers build programming into their cars to protect the battery from overcharging.
Tip: Avoid completely draining the battery.
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Where can you charge EVs?
Charging stations are expanding at an incredible rate, thanks to investments and policies from all levels of government, companies whose entire business is providing chargers and automakers growing the network.
Chargers range in speed. The quickest provides 80 kilometres of range in as little as six minutes. More typical chargers can provide an 80 per cent charge in about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the battery. AND drivers can refuel at home or at work — where experts predict most people will.
Tip: Look for websites that map charging stations or check your local community centre.
Are EVs easy to find?
EVs are rare in Canada. Automakers have been slow to adopt the new technology and we lack government policies that focus on increasing supply. Quebec recently became the first province to adopt a zero-emission vehicle standard, requiring car manufacturers to ensure a growing percentage of new vehicle sales are EVs each year! This policy is modelled after a similar regulation in California, since adopted by nine other states. Expect availability to increase as mass-produced models like the Bolt and Tesla Model 3 become available in 2017.
Tip: Check used car lots and listings, too.
Are EVs good cars?
EV owners find them fun to drive. Electric motors are able to instantaneously transfer energy from the battery to the wheels rather than waiting for fuel to travel to the engine, turn a piston and transfer that energy to the wheels. So EVs have remarkable acceleration. The Bolt, for example, can reach 96 km/h (60 m.p.h.) in 6.5 seconds, about as fast as a supercharged Ford Mustang, according to NBC news. EVs are also almost silent!
Canada is increasingly urban. Many of us can forgo owning a car in favour of walking, cycling and public transit. For those who remain car-bound, EVs are something worth getting excited about.
What else would you like to know about EVs? (I could feature your question in a future blog. Subscribe to my monthly digest so you don't miss the answer!)
Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green