Electric vehicles remain a mysterious commodity to many would-be purchasers.
What’s the difference between a battery-powered EV, a plug-in hybrid EV and a hybrid?
A battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV, for short) is fully powered by an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. An emission-free vehicle, it must be plugged in to an external source of electricity. A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) has the electric motor/battery combination plus a gas-powered combustion engine to tag-team. Typically , the range is 30 to 50 kilometres. For trips that run out the battery, the gas-powered engine takes over. A hybrid vehicle has the electric motor/battery combo plus the gas-powered engine but no plug-in. Instead of using an external electricity source to recharge the battery, it is recharged by the gasoline engine and regenerative braking.
Does an EV cost more to buy?
Up front, yes. But several provincial governments offer hefty rebates to defray the costs. In Ontario, drivers can get up to $14,000 back on the purchase of an EV. B.C. rebates start at $2,500 and are capped at $6,000. In Quebec, EV drivers can cash in on a minimum of $500, up to a maximum of $8,000.
Will an EV save me more in the long run?
Most BEV and PHEV drivers report saving a minimum of $2,000 per year in fuel costs (for 20,000 kilometres of driving) plus further reductions on insurance, service (EVs usually need just one service per year) and oil changes (not required). Starting in January, Ontario offers free overnight charging.
How long do EVs take to charge?
There are three different “levels” of chargers that offer varying speeds. Level 1 uses an on-board plug to connect to a standard, 120v household outlet. A full charge takes 8 to 20 hours, depending on the battery size. Level 2 chargers connect to 220 or 240v system (like a clothes dryer plug); a full charge takes four to six hours. Level 3, known as DC fast charging, varies by manufacturer but often allows 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes.
What if my battery dies?
Most EV makers are offering 8-year, 160,000 kilometre warranties on their batteries.
Will my battery lose capacity over time?
Yes. Each manufacturer is different. Nissan, for example, originally estimated the Leaf would lose 20 per cent of its battery capacity after 5 years. Some owners had better luck, some worse.
Sources: Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, Fleetcarma, Plug’n Drive, Plugin BC, source interviews
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