Electric vehicles, or EVs for short, have been the hot car commodity for 2022. Their sales were up by a third in the first half of 2022 and accounted for 7.2 per cent of new car registrations in Canada. For all of 2021, the proportion was 5.2 per cent.
But many prospective buyers have questions for their dealers and reservations of their own about the still relatively new technology.
HOW MANY KILOMETRES AVAILABLE ON A FULL CHARGE?
Range will be determined by the EV model, the size of its battery, the ambient temperature, driving style and a willingness to pay more. There's the Mazda MX-30 and its 160-kilometre range on the low end and the six-figure Lucid Air Grand Touring with up to 830 kilometres on the other. A ballpark average for today's EVs would be around 400 kilomtres. Older EVs will have less range, roughly 160-320 kilometres, due to being first-generation technology and battery degradation.
Driving habits will greatly affect how far one can travel, just as they would on a gas-powered vehicle. Accelerate slowly and smoothly and the charge lasts longer. Driving aggressively and maintaining high speeds will eat into range.
HOW MANY YEARS WILL THE BATTERY LAST?
Battery life is determined by how often the battery was exposed to extreme temperatures, how often it operated at high and low states of charge, how many charge cycles it received, and how many times it visited a DC fast charger.
Like a smartphone's battery, an EV battery's performance will degrade over the years, albeit much slower. After 10 years, an EV battery would have a charge of roughly 77 per cent, according to vehicle data company Geotab.
To alleviate some of this concern, the U.S. federal government has mandated that all EV batteries be covered for at least eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. In California and the 14 other states that have adopted its zero-emissions vehicle regulations, the coverage is extended to 10 years.
DOES IT QUALIFY FOR A TAX CREDIT?
In Canada, the federal Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles (iZEV) program provides a $5,000 rebate for battery electric vehicles, as well as plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with electric range greater than 49 kilometres. PHEVs with less electric range qualify for $2,500.
The same eligibility criteria applies to both categories. Zero-emission passenger cars starting at less than $55,000, and higher-cost variants up to $65,000 qualify for the incentives. Larger vehicles such as pickups, minivans and SUVs must have a base price of less than $60,000, and higher-cost variants must start at less than $70,000. Higher-cost trim levels are not eligible.
British Columbia, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island offer their own provincial rebates on top of the federal one.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CHARGE?
The time it takes to charge an EV depends on its battery size, the speed of its onboard charger (usually rated in kilowatts), and the voltage of where its plugged it in. For daily driving and commuting, most people will be able to charge overnight at a 240-volt socket, also called Level 2 charging. It would take significantly longer to charge an EV on a standard 110-volt wall socket. A Level 3 or DC fast charger would be needed for road trips. These high-power stations significantly reduce charging time, and in general, a vehicle can go from a 10 per cent to 80 per cent charge in about 30 minutes.
WHERE AND WHEN ARE THEY AVAILABLE?
Many EVs are available at local dealerships. However, there's been a shortage of new cars in recent years, and EVs have been hit the hardest due to their complexity. Consumers might end up on a waiting list.
Startup brands such as Tesla, Lucid and Rivian exist outside the dealer system and sell directly to consumers on their websites. They rarely carry inventory, and cars are often built after an order is placed. Depending on the vehicle model and configuration, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to upwards of a year.