WWF-Canada Blog:

Electric cars: So… How far can I go?

“How far can I go?” is a common question we get when we blog about electric vehicles (EVs). While we like to focus on the environmental benefits, this is a pretty key concern – so here’s information that some of our readers are looking for.

Electric vehicles really range (sorry) in how far the can go on a single charge. Some plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) will only go 20 km in all-electric mode (but they have a back up gasoline tank that kicks in after the charge is gone). For pure electric cars (BEVs), we’ve heard they usually range from 100 km upwards per charge.

In both PHEVs and BEVs, your range is affected by how aggressively you drive and how many “accessories” you use. Drive fast and blast the heat? You’ll see a reduction in range.

So, range is important. But to be fair, conventional cars have limited range too. They just have the advantage of an abundance of gas stations. Because of how common gas stations are, we’ve adjusted to gas range-anxiety. We’ll adjust to electric range – anxiety too – once we have obvious public charging options that suit our needs.

For most people, on a daily basis, we don’t need to have range anxiety and we don’t need public charging. 80 percent of us drive less than 60 km a day, which means that charging every night (or every few nights), will get us to work and back with a few errands in between. But, for the longer distances – to visit friends or family, or for work – we need some sort of charging infrastructure to get us beyond 100 km.

And while you might think this option is a long way off, we’re here to show you how much development is happening – with three big announcements just yesterday!

BC Ministry of the Environment announces the location of the City of Vancouver’s first quick charge station – at the Science World at TELUS World of Science. (c) Anna Horvath

BC fast-charging network

Just last week, the government of BC unveiled the locations for the first 12 fast-charging stations across the province (see where they’ll go). These stations will allow EV owners and users to charge 80 percent of their battery in 20 minutes – while grabbing a coffee perhaps – and then get back on the road for the rest of their trip. Eventually, EV owners in BC will be able to smoothly travel (using quick chargers) from Whistler to Portland and beyond!

Quebec’s public charging network

Last week Hydro-Quebec gave an update on the successes of Electric Circuit – a network of 150 charging stations across the province. With more level 2 charging stations on the horizon for 2013, Electric Circuit is developing the charging infrastructure to help shoppers and diners top up their range while running errands. Want access? Get the membership card.

The Longest Green Highway

Another big development is Sun Country Highway’s Greenest Highway project. Working with local businesses, Sun Country Highway has installed over 200 level 2 charging stations across the country and just last month Kent Rathwell made the drive from coast to coast across Canada in a pure electric car. It is Sun Country’s goal that 90 percent of the Canadian population will be able to access public EV chargers by the end of 2013. Find a Sun Country charging station near you (tip: most will charge your car for free for now).

Use CAA’s new map to find a charger near you!

Finding a Charging Station

So chargers are in the ground, and even more are to come. And now there is a one stop-shop for finding all the vehicle chargers across the country! Just last week CAA (in partnership with Plug’n Drive and Electric Mobility Canada) launched an Electric Vehicle Charging Station Locator. It’s fun to play around with and see how you could plan distance trips with an EV. What’s more, it’s a great way to track how fast development continues!

  • Hi Kar, Thanks for your comment. You’re right – batteries in EVs (and other products) need to have a reuse and recycling plan. While currently all manufacturers plan to recycle vehicle batteries (as they currently recycle hybrid batteries), there are opportunities for EV batteries to be used at the end of their life in community-level electricity projects to provide energy storage to help out when demand is high. You can find out more about this idea here: http://www.torontohydro.com/sites/electricsystem/powerup/Pages/CommunityEnergyStorage.aspx

  • kar Taylor says:

    I am still confused about the fact that nobody seems to worry about the birth to death aspect of the hybrid/electric cars: those batteries are made of highly toxic metals, what happens to all those batteries at the end of their life? The electric car batteries are large, contain lots of toxic metals, the battery parts are being produced in old school, extremely polluting, coal burning factories from many different places from all over the world… It seems that most people seem to like to forget that aspect…
    just wondering if a locally produced low emission car is not a whole lot more nature friendly in the end if you would take the above into account too!

  • Ralph Hummel says:

    I live in the states and drive a Hybrid car, currently I am looking into putting solar panels up. I heat with oil but back it up with a wood stove another renewable energy source. I saw that there was a leak in a pipe line in Canada recently, ok we have fossil fuels now but what about in 300 years, in my opinion it is time to start lowering our dependance on fossil fuels.

  • Ian Cordner says:

    Great news but I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that before too long it will cost just as much to charge up as it takes to fill up at present. It’s the capitalist way!

  • Lynn says:

    So now the CAA has to do a quick charge out on the highway..

    Manitoba is a good place to recharge.. It’s mostly water generation— as is Quebec.

  • Lynn says:

    Pay attention to the Tesla Electric.. Getting great range and they are beautiful.
    They are expensive however. It would be good if the batteries of all electric cars were made standard and rather than charge you could do a quick change.

  • Jen says:

    “naval green strike group” I mean**

  • Jen says:

    If the charging stations are getting their power from wind, solar and geothermal, it is worth it (check out Germany charging stations that are clean), but if the electric came from filth, then that is worst and not worth it….google “algae oil for fuel” “green strike group” wiki all the algae companies and every detail, YouTube algae for fuel also for more info. It can be closed or open and many many more details about it.
    That article didn’t say much where the charging stations power comes from!
    Better NOT be coal!

  • Shadi says:

    This is ridiculous the GM EV-1 had a range of ~250 KMs nearly fifteen years ago. Great initiative by BC and Quebec, but it’s pretty clear who’s still controlling what.

  • Stew says:

    Have to agree with the Ebike comment above – you see very little articles on these!

  • Stew says:

    Have to agree with the Ebike comments above – you see very little mentioned on these!

  • Gary Crosby says:

    The BYD company in China had a 400 KM per charge electric car. To sell it in America they had to hybrid it and match the Chevy Volt.. What a crock.

  • Janet says:

    Remember, electric cars run on the source of electricity, which is often coal! thus by using electric, you may be worsening the pollution problem and the general access to electricity. Look for a low mileage oil fueled car if you must drive yourself.

  • ute cruz says:

    hypread and me went from Toronto,On
    .to Oklahoma Us.and used half of the gas ,as i used with my regular Car .so i’m happy with a half electiric Car.lol

  • ute cruz says:

    my wunderful hybread got me from Toronto to Oklahoma with half the Gas i used with my regulear .i love it ………

  • The most successful electric vehicle today is the electric bicycle or ebike, yet is being publicly and politically shunned. Where are the public charging stations for ebikes?. In fact there is a campaign in Toronto by public officials and the major Toronto cyclist organization to make it as difficult as possible to use ebikes.

    Ebikes have been adopted in the millions world wide, without subsidies, and in fact with an uphill battle to get accepted, while electric car sales languish in the thousands, and governments continue to pour money into electric car and electric car charging stations, and zero for ebikes.

  • CLYDE BURTON says:

    I always said, ” we should go electric in cars today. A much cleaner way to go.” I wish i could afford to get one.

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