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In some areas of the world, the environmental benefits of owning an EV can be undermined by the source of the electricity used to recharge said vehicle. This is not the case right here in Ontario where the vast majority of our power comes from two sources: nuclear and hydro.

In fact, these two sources alone combine to create 79.1% of the electricity used to power our homes and our lives. This information becomes even more compelling for the prospective EV owner when you take into consideration the very low cost of electricity during off-peak periods.

In Ontario, off-peak periods include all day on weekends and statutory holidays, and from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on regular weekdays.

If an EV is charged overnight, the most common time to do so, the cost to travel 100 km on that charge would be just $1.59. This same trip would cost approximately $5.40 in a 2011 Honda Civic Hybrid, one of the most fuel-efficient non-plug-in hybrids on the road today. The cost to fuel a 2011 Toyota Yaris, one of the most fuel-efficient non- hybrid cars around, would be about $7.68.

Nissan Canada estimates that the cost to power the LEAF for a year, assuming average annual driving distance of 20,000 km, is just $320. When you think about the continued volatility of fuel prices, that figure represents a very comforting thought.

Of course, there is other math to consider. Electric vehicles and hybrids are, most often, more expensive than their entirely gasoline- or diesel-powered counterparts.

But pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids also qualify for a provincial rebate in Ontario that ranges from $5,000 to $8.500, depending on battery capacity. This incentive makes all the EVs and PHEVs currently available for sale here a lot more palatable.

But there’s another key consideration to take into account apart from dollars and cents: tailpipe emissions. While the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Yaris are among the most eco-friendly of small cars, they can’t hold a candle to an EV in terms of cleanliness.

In the Yaris, that 100-km trip would emit 14.72 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere, while in the Civic Hybrid, that figure would be 10.4 kg of CO2. Although the EV has no tailpipe emissions whatsoever, the estimated impact of the plants used to generate the electricity in Ontario is just 1.7 kg of CO2. In other words: a big difference.

“Many of us have already moved to energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs,” notes Cara Clairman, President and CEO of Plug’nDrive Ontario. “But few other actions can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions as significantly as switching from a gas-powered car to an EV or plug-in hybrid.”

According to recent statistics from the Ministry of Energy, 31% of greenhouse gas creation in Ontario still comes from transportation. So despite the fact that the average gas- or diesel-powered vehicle is far cleaner than ever before, it’s still a far cry from the average EV.

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