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what car should I buy?

In search of an electric vehicle with a 300-kilometre range

If the Tesla and the Chevrolet Bolt are out of the running, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle might be a good alternative

I want a fully electric car that has a range of at least 300 kilometres. Other than the Tesla and the Chevrolet Bolt, is there anything else available? – Steve

Lightstone: I find it fascinating that searching for an electric vehicle with 300 kilometres of battery range is even an option today. Just a few years ago, it wouldn't even have been possible.

Richardson: True, but there's not much of an option. Steve's already named all the vehicles with all-electric ranges of more than 300 km: the two current Teslas – Model S and Model X – and the much-vaunted, almost-ready-with-a-long-waiting-list Tesla Model 3, and the Chevrolet Bolt. There are others in the works, but none on the road yet. There's a wider choice now with ranges close to 200 km.

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Chevrolet Bolt.

Lightstone: So that's our answer – No?

Richardson: Most people don't drive more than 100 km in a day and then there's time to recharge at night. Does he have a long commute?

Lightstone: Maybe he does. Or he just wants some range in reserve.

Richardson: The thing to remember is that, right now, the more battery power a car has, the longer it takes to charge it fully from empty. So if Steve really does want to drive 300 km at a stretch, he has to have access to a fast charger, either a Level 2 or a Level 3. Level 1 charging, which means plugging it into the 110-volt outlet at home, could take more than 24 hours to charge completely.

Lightstone: Charge time and range anxiety are the bane of all EV driver's lives, for sure. But if Steve has a Level 2 charger at home and access to the same thing at work, or maybe nearby in a public lot with a FLO or Electric Circuit charging hub, then he could easily manage a 300-km commute. Level 3 is even faster, but those chargers require a special commercial electrical upgrade to have at home, and they're like $70,000 expensive.

Richardson: That's a couple of huge ifs.

Lightstone: Sure, but there are new commercial chargers being installed all the time, especially in Quebec and Ontario.

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Richardson: The fact is, the Holy Grail of electric vehicles is to be the equivalent of gas-powered vehicles – have a range of 400 km or so, and recharge the batteries in the time it would take to pump gas. Batteries are expensive and heavy, which is why auto makers are promoting PHEVs, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. They'll drive 50 km or so on pure electric power, then switch to gas.

Lightstone: The PHEV really is the happy medium here. If Matt is travelling in shorter spurts through the day, there's a good chance he could run on full electric power alone between stops and rarely have to fill up with gas if he plugs in at each stop. The Chevy Volt, for example, can travel on full electric power for up to 85 km, then switches over to gas if you need it and will go as far as you want.

2018 Chevrolet Volt.

Richardson: It's winter, don't forget. The electric range can be cut in half in the cooler temps.

Lightstone: The same can be said with gas-powered vehicles: fuel efficiency often drops in the colder months, as well, except we don't really notice. But there are some tips and tricks that full-EV owners use in the winter. They warm up the cabin temperature before driving while it's still plugged in, and they always plug in when parked, in a heated garage if possible.

Richardson: That's a lot of hassle that most people aren't used to, but you're right that it helps preserve the range.

Tesla Model X.

Lightstone: EVs do take some planning ahead if you're to get the most out of them.

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Richardson: Which it seems like Steve might be prepared for. So the answer to the question about cars other than Teslas or the Bolt having a 300-km range is still no, but there are some alternatives and plenty to think about.


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