How accessible are EV charging stations in Canada?

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As gas prices continue to rise, we’ve listened to your questions about electric vehicles (EVs). Here’s what you want to know.

How much does it cost to run an electric vehicle compared to a gasoline vehicle?

According to a 2022 analysis the total cost of ownership of popular car models by Clean Energy Canadathe cost of each EV analyzed was lower—often much lower—than the cost of its gas equivalent, with one exception.

An average electric vehicle will cost up to $5 to $12 to go from empty to full in Canada, said Joanna Kyriazis, clean transportation program manager at Clean Energy Canada.

“You’re looking at about $16 to travel 100 kilometers [on gas] … where an electric vehicle consumes about 20 kilowatts [hours] energy to do the same,” said David Giles, electric vehicle technical specialist and founder of All EV Canadaa Canadian group of EV experts.

To move an electric vehicle 100 kilometers, he said, the price would be closer to $2.

Most electric vehicles tend to have lower maintenance costs, in part because they have fewer moving parts than a traditional combustion engine. That means they don’t need oil changes to keep those moving parts lubricated.

Electric vehicle parts also require less frequent replacement. A standard battery lasts about five to eight years.

However, when EVs require repairs, it could be higher than conventional repair costs.

How often should the batteries be recharged?

While range may vary depending on vehicle, battery condition and driving conditions, most EVs now have a charge of around 400 kilometers, according to All EV Canada.

“It all depends on driving habits,” Kyriazis said. For example, if you travel 50 kilometers every day, a single charge can last up to eight days.

The charging port of the Chevy Bolt EV, an electric car compatible with multiple levels of chargers. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

However, it is not recommended to charge your electric vehicle beyond 80%, according to Green Carsan EV advocacy group, to make space for regenerative braking, which converts kinetic energy into usable energy – if there’s enough space in your battery.

You also shouldn’t allow your electric vehicle to fully discharge to zero percent, which reduces overall battery life, the group says.

So if you own an electric vehicle, you might want to consider keeping your charge between 30-80% to get the most out of your battery life.

When it comes to comparing a full tank of gas to a fully charged electric vehicle, “they’re very close in range,” Giles said.

How long does it take to charge?

The answer to this depends on the size of the battery and the type of charging method used.

There are three levels of EV charging:

  • Level 1: Uses a common household 120 volt outlet. This method works very well for hybrid electric vehicles, which have smaller batteries. Depending on the charger and battery size, it can take up to 20 hours to fully charge an EV.

  • Level 2: most commonly used method for daily charging of electric vehicles. Charging equipment can be installed in your home. It can take up to six to seven hours to charge an ordinary electric vehicle using this method.

  • Level 3: Also known as DC fast chargers. These can be found at charging stations on highways and can charge an EV from empty to 80% in 30-45 minutes.

WATCH | Explain the different levels of electric vehicle charging:

The different levels of EV charging

Daniel Breton, President and CEO of Electric Mobility Canada, explains the different levels of electric vehicle charging.

“Having driven electric cars for many years, it’s actually very rare that I use the fast chargers on the highways unless I’m going on a trip,” said Daniel Breton, president and CEO of Electric Mobility Canada.

How accessible are charging stations across Canada?

In provinces like Before Christ and Quebecthe charging infrastructure is really developed, said Breton.

“Where it gets a little trickier is when you live in, say, downtown Toronto or Calgary or Montreal for that matter, because some people can’t charge at home,” he said. -he declares.

If you live in an apartment or condominium building and it doesn’t have infrastructure for EV charging, finding an outlet in an underground parking lot and keeping your EV plugged in overnight will help keep the battery charged. vehicle, Giles said.

As of May 2022, Canadian EV drivers have access to more than 16,000 chargers at more than 6,000 public charging stations, according to Data from Natural Resources Canada.

Although most of these publicly available chargers are Level 2 chargers, there are approximately 1,200 DC fast chargers in Canada.

“80 to 90 percent of charging happens at home when you have an electric car,” Breton said.

According to a 2021 analysis of electric vehicle readiness of the world’s 10 largest auto markets, Canada ranks eighth out of the top 10 auto markets. Ernst and Young’s analysis attributes the ranking to weak demand and “insufficient” charging infrastructure.

Unlike finding gas stations, drivers looking for an EV charging station may need to locate them on their phone using apps like ChargePoint and PlugShare.

“It’s a very different way of looking or trying to find a loader,” Breton said.

In 2021, Canada had approximately 0.06 publicly accessible charging stations for every electric vehicle on the road, according to the International Energy Agency.

Giles said the downside in Canada right now is that highway charging stations don’t have enough chargers.

“I’m going to stay at the charging station for 15 minutes. I stop at a charging station and there’s only one charger and it’s already used up,” he said.

“Tesla is a good example of what it should look like – they have 10 charging stations at their charging stations,” he said. The problem? Only Tesla models can be charged at these stations.

Many EV drivers expressed their frustration about it.

A Tesla electric vehicle charging station is pictured in Surrey, British Columbia on April 11, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A analysis made for Natural Resources Canada suggested that we will need, on average, one charger for every 20 electric vehicles by 2025, and after more electric vehicles hit the streets, the ratio would drop to around one in 49 d 2050.

In the longer term, electric vehicle charging in Canada needs to be at a high level, relying more on DC fast charging for public charging systems, the analysis notes.

Are you losing battery in cold weather?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not that different from what you might lose in a gas-powered vehicle.

All electric cars experience some degree of range loss in cold weather, according to a report from the Recurrent battery analysis firm.

“Not all electric cars are created equal in the cold. Some are more efficient. Some are less efficient,” Breton said.

Just like the batteries in your cell phones, the cold slows down the battery chemistry, which in turn results in less energy for acceleration.

Electric vehicles also draw on the battery to heat or cool the battery to keep it at a safe temperature. This energy used to maintain battery temperature also contributes to range loss.

However, gasoline vehicles also lose fuel mileage by trying to warm up the engine in cold weather at a similar rate.

Cold air in winter is denser than air in summer, which increases wind resistance, which increases fuel consumption by about 1.3%, according to Natural Resources Canada.

It becomes “more difficult to race through the air with any car,” Breton said.

WATCH | Do electric vehicles lose more range in winter than gasoline vehicles?

Do electric vehicles lose more range in winter than gasoline vehicles?

David Giles, electric vehicle technical specialist and founder of All EV Canada, talks about the range of electric vehicles in winter compared to gasoline vehicles.

Can our network support it?

Currently, the answer is yes, but in the longer term, changes would be necessary.

Canada will need to make significant changes to its electricity generation and distribution systems to meet growing demand and climate goals, says 2022 study report by the Canadian Climate Institute.

Currently in Canada, we have an “overnight electricity surplus” produced to meet peak hour needs, Kyriazis said.

For many years, Canada’s excess electricity was sold to the United States, according to Natural Resources Canada. Kyriazis said she believes the best use of this surplus is to have more electric vehicles plugged in to charge overnight.

“Electric vehicles can play a very positive role because it’s very easy to pre-program an electric car,” Breton said.

“What I would do is just use my phone, pre-program it to start charging at eight, and then it would be full in the morning.”

Giles said some people are also turning to solar and wind power to generate power for their electric vehicles.

“However you want to generate that energy to fill your vehicle, you have control,” Giles said.

More and more electric vehicles are also becoming capable of not only storing energy, but also powering a wider network thanks to two-way charging.

With bi-directional charging, vehicles are also able to discharge energy from their batteries, feeding it back into buildings and the grid when plugged in.

Bi-directional charging operation: When the wind blows, the power can be routed through the charger to the car. When demand is high, the car feeds electricity back into the grid. (Radio Canada)

The simplest use of this technology is what car manufacturers market: saving energy when you need it most.

It could be practical – and even save lives – as climate change increases the risk of extreme weather events.