Electric Vehicles: Just like a regular car…but better!
By Rebecca Spring, Manager of Sustainable Transportation, WWF-Canada
Like a regular car…was a phrase I heard a lot. After the initial excitement about the silence and the cool info displays on the dashboard, we all just settled into a smooth, clean drive. Most seemed surprised by how normal it was and I wonder if they were expecting some compromises by switching gas for electricity. If they were, it was quickly forgotten.
Of course, while EVs give the appearance of being like a regular car, they’re not. They’re revolutionary and they’re different. While you can get into one and drive it off the rental lot without a second thought, there are some questions and things to think about as you starting driving. I faced a ton of questions while chauffeuring workmates around and I’ve listed the most common ones below with quick answers and links for more information if you want to read more.
—How is it different from a hybrid? – many WWFers have been in a hybrid and wanted to know how EVs are different. An EV has a MUCH bigger battery that needs to be plugged-in to be recharged by the electricity grid. Also, EVs run exclusively on the electric motor whereas the gas engine kicks in for hybrids to drive at high speeds and accelerate.
–How is it cleaner if the electricity is dirty? – As critical thinking as you would expect, WWFers know that electricity isn’t always clean. They’ve got a point too – while electric motors are more efficient than gas engines, the mix of your electricity grid is important. This is why WWF has a complementary renewable energy program to our EV project. We’ve created a graphic to help you figure out just how clean EVs are in your province.
–How and where do you charge it? – the simple way to charge an EV is by plugging it in to a regular socket at your house. To speed up the charging process, EV owners install a higher voltage charger at home (it’s the same voltage as your dryer hook up). While still an easy process for people with garages and private parking spaces, people who have a parking space in a larger garage will have to speak with their parking manager.
–What if you run out of charge? – WWFers asked this after noticing the battery symbol that counts down the remaining range (similar to a fuel gauge). My answer – avoid it the same way you do running out of gas! Since charging stations aren’t as common as gas stations, here are a few more reassuring points:
- Some EVs have a back-up plan: Plug-in Hybrid electric vehicles have a small gas tank that kicks in when the charge runs out.
- Your commute is probably WAY shorter than the range for EVs (~150kms/charge). So charging exclusively at home at night will almost always be enough to get you where you want to go.
Fun! Exciting! The Future! Clean! Quiet! Smooth! Cool! Good! These were all exclamations I heard from my co-pilots on Friday. Why don’t you give an EV a chance at the dealership or during your next rental and let us know about your first electric drive!