Ready, set, charge!

EV charging station sign at City of Burlington parking garage
EV charging station sign at the City of Burlington parking garage, 414 Locust St.

Remember when the thought of seeing electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads seemed to be more science fiction than reality? And even then, the prototypes were expensive and so futuristic looking that it was unlikely that they would become something anyone could ever actually own or drive. Well, the car of the future has arrived, and not only are EVs on our roads, they don’t look any different than gas or diesel powered cars.

What is an EV?

There are two types of EVs: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). BEVs are fully electric vehicles that need to be charged to run. PHEVs run on electricity during short trips but also have an internal combustion engine to extend the range of the vehicle. PHEVs can be a stepping stone for those who have “range anxiety,” which is the fear of running out of power before being able to recharge the car. If you worry about range on EVs, do your research, plan your trips and look for charging stations, which are being added at a faster pace. Improved battery technology is also helping to increase the range in these vehicles.

Travelling from Burlington to Vancouver in a PHEV.
Range anxiety? Burlington’s Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee travelled from Burlington to Vancouver in his PHEV. The total gas used for the 6000 km trip was 300L or 5L/100 km. Photo courtesy of Gareth Williams.

What are the advantages of an EV?

  • No tailpipe emissions during operation when running on the battery and electric drive train.
  • Lower maintenance costs.
  • No fuel costs when running on the battery and electric drive train. While there are costs for electricity the good news is that it is cheaper than fuel, especially if you plug in at night.
  • You can get a green vehicle license plate which means access to provincial HOV lanes when it’s just you, though carpooling is still preferred.

Are there incentives to purchase or lease an EV?

Yes! In Ontario, we have the Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (EVIP) which offers up to $14,000 in incentives to help reduce the increased upfront cost of an EV:

  • $6,000 to $10,000 for vehicles with a battery charging capacity of 5 to 16 kWh.
  • Up to $3,000 for vehicles with battery capacities greater than 16 kWh.
  • $1,000 incentive for vehicles with five or more seats.

You will want to know that these incentives cannot exceed 30 per cent of the vehicle’s manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and vehicles costing over $75,000 are eligible for a maximum incentive of $3,000.

Did you know?

  • Most EV owners charge their vehicles at home and overnight.
  • The majority of Canadians drive 60 km or less per day.

How do I charge an EV?

If you’ve made a commitment to purchase an EV, you will need to know your options when it comes to charging stations:

  • Level 1 charging station (120 Volts) – this is a standard home or workplace outlet. While the advantage is availability, the disadvantage is that charging time could be eight to 20 hours. As a result, these would be best for PHEVs.
  • Level 2 charging station (240 Volts) – the most common type of charger that can be used by all EVs in Canada or the US and be fully charged in four to six hours.
  • Level 3 charging station (480 Volts) – often installed along highways as the charging time is about 30 minutes. They are currently only available for BEVs.

Level 2 and 3 charging stations were part of the province’s Electric Vehicles Chargers Ontario (EVCO) incentive program earlier this year as they work to install a network of stations in cities, along highways, at workplaces and public places. These stations will be operational by March 31, 2017. Additional funding might be available in 2017.

Mayor Rick Goldring unveils the City of Burlington's EV charging station at 414 Locust St.

Mayor Goldring unveils the City of Burlington’s Level 2 EV charging station at 414 Locust St. on Aug. 26, 2015.

Are there incentives to install charging stations?

Once again, yes there are! Currently, the incentives are for Level 2 charging stations.

  • Ontario’s Electric Vehicle Charging Incentive Program (EVCIP)
    • $1,000 for private home or business EV charging stations.
  • EVfutureGRID
    • Burlington and Oakville Hydro customers are eligible for a pilot program to receive a reduced rate for equipment and installation of a standard EV charging station.

Where can I find out more about EVs?

A non-profit organization, whose mission is to raise the profile of EVs, is Plug ‘n Drive. Check out their website for great information such as:

  • Profiles all BEVs and PHEVs available in Canada along with statistics such as average range on electric, average cost and emissions per 100 km, time to charge, starting price and current incentives.
  • Profiles of a range of charging infrastructure and their associated costs.
  • Links to websites and apps for current locations of charging stations including CAA Charging Station Locator, EV Charge Hub, and PlugShare,
  • Links to EV club owners of Canada including the local Golden Horseshoe Electric Vehicle Association (GHEVA).

    Plug 'n Drive information booth. E-vehicles were available for test drives.
    A Plug ‘n Drive information booth at Burlington Hydro’s Open House event in Oct. 2016. E-vehicles were available for test drives. Photo courtesy of Burlington Hydro.

BurlingtonGreen, has also been doing their part to promote EVs. They attended the Downtown Car Show in July 2016, which featured EVs (see video below courtesy of BurlingtonGreen), and have posted educational material on their website including a cost analysis to determine “What’s your best fit?” with respect to EVs and a 15 question survey to test one’s knowledge about EVs.

While the number of EVs currently sold in Ontario is quite small, the share is increasing due to education, more vehicle options, improved batteries with greater range, better access to charging infrastructure, and incentives to make the price more comparable to their internal combustion counterparts.

Take Action Burlington! Collectively what and how we drive can make a difference.

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