Looking to Buy Your First Electric Vehicle? We Debunk Some Common Myths
Those thinking of buying their first electric vehicle must first wade through all the misconceptions about EV ownership. Photo: Westend61/Getty Images
It’s not a stretch to suggest you’ve thought about buying your first electric vehicle (EV), especially when looking at how much you just paid per litre to fill up.
You’re not alone.
KPMG found 62 per cent of Canadians feel high gas prices have convinced them it’s time to buy an EV.
Sentiment is in line with sales numbers, too. According to IHS Markit’s most recent Automotive Insights report, electric vehicle adoption in Canada is picking up considerably, now accounting for 11.8 per cent of all vehicle registrations, up from 7.6 per cent a year prior.
This includes pure EVs or bEVs (all battery-powered), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (which have a charging port and gas tank) and hybrid electric vehicles (which use an electric motor to assist a gas-powered engine). The first two options are zero-emission vehicles, together accounting for 5.6 per cent of all car sales last year, up from 3.8 per cent in 2020.
Anecdotally, you may have also noticed more EVs (quietly) idling beside you at a red light, such as a Tesla, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai Kona Electric or Ford Mustang Mach-E — and many more to come.
Along with a silent ride, zero emissions and never having to pay for gas again (for bEVs), EVs also have fewer maintenance costs (no oil changes needed), and instant torque (really fast pick-up).
But those thinking of buying their first electric vehicle must first wade through all the misconceptions about EV ownership. With bEV models in mind, the following are some myth-busting considerations.
“I will have range anxiety.”
One of the biggest (perceived) hurdles for new EV owners is that you might be concerned about running out of battery before you reach your destination.
Often referred to as “range anxiety,” this is certainly not the case, given the average EV can drive for about 320 kilometres on a full charge, which is several days (or more than a week for most people’s commutes to and from an office), picking up the kids from school, driving to the mall, out for dinner and so on.
In fact, someone living in downtown Toronto can drive to the Kawartha Lakes cottage country — and back again — without needing to charge up.
Some vehicles can go above and beyond this range, too, such as up to 417 kilometres per charge with the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV (starting at $38,198), or up to 430 kilometres with the Tesla Model 3 ($59,990; for a rear-wheel drive model). Range could even go up to 640 kilometres for the 2023 Silverado EV pick-up truck (from $52,488). Prices do not include any tax credits/government rebates offered as incentive for buying an EV (which vary between provinces).
“There aren’t many places to charge up.”
Again, not true.
Between 80 to 90 per cent of EV owners charge up at home — and with many automotive manufacturers offering to install 240-volt plug in your garage for free, with the purchase of a new EV — but there are several businesses that offer EV charging stations at the office, which you may be able to reserve and more than 6,000 charging stations across urban, suburban and rural areas in Canada at the time of writing this (housing more than 16,000 chargers, in total).
In many cases, your vehicle’s companion app or dashboard can tell you when it’s time to charge up, where and perhaps even reserve a station for you (and even use the same app to pay).
Many of these are Level 3 or DC Fast Charging stations that can typically juice up an EV between 25 and 45 minutes.
At home, you can use a regular 120-volt AC plug, too, but will take a while, and so many opt for a 240-volt upgrade in the garage, which also adds to your home’s resale value. Many EV apps let you select when to charge up your vehicle, such as when electricity is least expensive (middle of the night, for example).
Therefore, just like you plug your smartphone in before you go to bed, you can do the same for your EV to top it up for the morning.
“EVs aren’t ideal for Canadian climate.”
One last misconception is that electric vehicles aren’t ideal for colder weather, as it could significantly impact performance.
Sure, just as frigid temperatures and snowy or icy terrain could affect fuel efficiency and handling with gas-powered vehicles, Canadian winters will likely impact an EV’s battery life — but nowhere to the point of it not being ideal for the Great White North.
This is simply untrue.
Vehicle makers test cars in inclement weather to gauge EV performance, including General Motors’ testing facility in Kapuskasing, in northern Ontario, some 850 kilometres north of Toronto, where temps get as low as -45! Yikes.
Here’s a tip: rather than heating the entire cabin, to preserve some battery you can heat the seat and steering wheel only, which should do the trick.