ICE / Hybrid / PHEV / EV?
Hybrid = Uses two different forms of power, most commonly internal combustion engine and an electric motor. By utilizing both power sources, each can operate when optimal, increasing efficiency over a standard ICE vehicle. These have a smallish battery that is charged via the engine (as well as regenerative braking).
PHEV = Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle – These are hybrids with typically larger battery packs, and they can fill the batteries off the grid, alowing longer distances of electric driving. For shorter commutes, these can function essentially as an EV, with the ICE available to provide additional range when needed.
EV = Electric Vehicle – These have larger batteries, and are powered entirely by electricity – no gasoline/fuel at all. These are highly efficient – between 85-90%. As electric motors generate peak power at 0 RPM, they tend to have good to great performance characteristics.
How do EV's handle winter?
- There is never a fear that they won’t turn start, even on the coldest days. As there is no oil, there is no worry that it becomes too cold and thick, nor is there a concern about a 12V battery getting too weak, failing to turn the engine over, or the starter motor failing.
- No more need to stand outside on a frigid morning refueling the vehicle at a gas station! It takes just a second to plug an EV in at the end of the day, and it will be full and ready to go well before you are the next day!
- Perhaps the best part of winter EV ownership is that they heat up super fast! Not relying on the waste heat of the gasoline engine, most EVs instead use resistance heating, which generates heat nearly instantly. Yes this does consume a bit of battery, but even with any range impact, almost all EVs easily handle the Canadian average daily driving instance. Additionally, as next generation EVs are coming to market, with their larger batteries and thus increased range, the impact of winter range loss is quickly becoming a moot point even for drivers that greatly exceed daily driving averages.
What about charging?
Level 1: This is the standard 120V that is EVERYWHERE in Canada. Every block heater plugin, and every garage already has the ability to charge an EV – zero additional expense needed. This is the slowest charging method – adding between 5-8km/hr. For those with short commutes, this may be sufficient.
Level 2: These chargers use 240V to quickly charge an EV. These can range from dryer plugs easily added in a garage to J1772 EV charging stations, oh and all RV parks have level 2 outlets! Almost all EVs sold include adapters to work with these outlets. These are typically what you find at public charging stations, using the J1772 plug for cross manufacture compatibility. Charging speeds vary depending on the amps available, typically 30-40km/hr, easily enough to bring an EV back up to full overnight. Tesla has its own version of this charging, using their proprietary Wall Connector.
Level 3: These are the public chargers that make long distance driving in an EV a breeze. They can provide upwards of 500km/hr charge speeds on empty batteries, slowing down as the battery fills up. Typically it will take 20-40 minutes to rapidly recharge a compatible EV so that it is ready to continue on its journey. Tesla’s implementation is called a Supercharger. Other EVs usually use CHAdeMO or CCS stations.
What EVs are available in Alberta?
Their numbers are growing dramatically every year as people experience the benefits of electric driving.
This is a list of electric drive vehicles sold in Alberta:
There are over 600 fully electric vehicles in Alberta. Amongst this fleet are the:
Smart For Two
Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model X
Tesla Model S
Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
There are also over 600 Plug-in Electric Vehicles in Alberta. Amongst this fleet are the:
Mini Cooper Countryman
Toyota Prius Prime
*list source credit: FleetKarma*
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
Most charging is done at night while you’re sleeping to replace what was used during the day.
Many owners also have the opportunity to charge while at work. The average commute in Canada is 44km a day which is well within the range of even smaller range EVs. With 240V Level 2 chargers installed at home, a charge time for an average daily commute can be less than two hours.
Aren't electric cars just coal powered in Alberta?
No. This is because Alberta does not generate electricity from coal alone. Alberta electricity generation is from sources of coal, natural gas, and renewables.
This Simon Fraser University study found that EVs charging with the mixed Alberta electricity grid can still reduce fleet-average GHG emissions intensity by 41% in Alberta. This percentage will only improve as efficiencies and renewable energy electricity generation increases over time.
Of course, an EV owner in Alberta can also choose to install a solar array on their property to fully offset electricity used from the electric grid to charge an EV. Another option is to purchase renewable energy from their Alberta energy retailer. Both options would make the associated emissions of charging their electric car ‘net zero’ for charging during the year from the grid. Meaning, GHG emissions generated were fully offset by the associated renewable energy fed to the Alberta electricity grid.
How long do the batteries last?
Most likely, longer than the life expectancy of the plug-in vehicle. The batteries in these vehicles are not the same as the batteries in our smart-phones. Smart-phone batteries are for a completely different market and are generally designed to last as long as the next replacement smartphone model. Well, perhaps not the ‘next’ model, but not too many new models down the road in the near future.
Many OEMs offer warranties covering eight years or 160,000 km of driving on their lithium-ion batteries. All batteries will lose capacity over time. The feedback coming in from owners in Alberta is that that range reduction seems to be about 1% every passing year. So it is reasonable to expect that an EV that gets approximately 120km per charge when new would still have approximately 108km of range after 10 years of use. That’s still well within the average daily commute of 42 km in Canada. EV’s that have larger battery packs that can get approximately 355km of range per charge when new would still have approximately 320km of range after 10 years of use.
What happens to the battery at the end of it’s life? Dumped in landfills?
No, not in landfills. It is illegal to dump these batteries in landfills. The general accepted useful life rate for an electric vehicle is when the battery gets to about 70% of its original capacity.
At an average range reduction of about 1% per year, 70% capacity would take a very long time to get to. Plug-in vehicles mostly use lithium ion, which is much more valuable than lead. Their inherent value will ensure that they are recycled, or better yet, used in “second-life” applications.