ICE / Hybrid / PHEV / EV / BEV?

ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) – A system where a fuel (like gasoline or diesel) is ignited within the engine to release energy that propels the vehicle. ICE vehicles are approximately 20-30% efficient, meaning a significant portion of the fuel’s energy (70-80%) is lost as heat.

Hybrid – These vehicles use two different power sources, most commonly an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. By balancing the use of both power sources for optimal conditions, hybrids increase efficiency compared to standard ICE vehicles. Hybrids possess a small battery, which is charged by the engine and regenerative braking.

PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) – PHEVs share similarities with hybrids but come equipped with larger battery packs. These can be plugged into an external electrical source for recharging. For shorter commutes, these vehicles can function essentially as EVs, utilizing the ICE for extended range when necessary.

EV (Electric Vehicle) – EVs have sizeable batteries and run exclusively on electricity, eliminating the need for gasoline or any other fuel. They offer exceptional efficiency, typically between 85-90%. Due to electric motors generating peak power at 0 RPM, EVs often display impressive performance characteristics.

BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) – A subtype of EVs, BEVs are powered solely by electricity stored in a battery pack. BEVs are recharged by plugging into an external source of electricity and do not have an internal combustion engine.

How do EV's handle winter?

Electric Vehicles (EVs) perform admirably in winter conditions, offering numerous advantages over traditional combustion engine vehicles.

One significant benefit is their reliable start-up, even during the coldest days. Without oil or a traditional 12V battery to worry about, you’ll never encounter issues with oil becoming too viscous, the battery being too weak, or a starter motor failing due to cold conditions.

Refueling becomes a breeze with EVs in winter. Gone are the days of enduring the icy chill to refuel at a gas station. All it takes is a moment to plug in your EV at the end of your day, and by the time you’re ready to embark on your journey the next morning, it’s fully charged and ready to go!

One of the most delightful aspects of winter EV ownership is the rapid heating. Unlike vehicles relying on the residual heat of a gasoline engine, most EVs utilize resistance heating, which generates warmth almost instantaneously. While this does draw on the battery somewhat, the impact on range is typically negligible given the average daily driving distance in Canada. Furthermore, with next-generation EVs entering the market boasting larger batteries and extended ranges, the concern about winter range reduction is becoming less significant, even for those who significantly exceed daily driving averages.

In essence, EVs are not only viable but also advantageous for winter driving, offering reliable operation, convenient charging, and quick heating to make your cold weather travels more enjoyable.

What about charging?

Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers are classified into three categories or levels:

Level 1: Utilizing standard 120V outlets, this level is commonly available across Canada. It requires no additional infrastructure as these outlets are typically found in most homes, garages, and for block heater plugins. Though Level 1 provides the slowest charging rate, typically adding between 5-8km of range per hour, it could be sufficient for users with short daily commutes.

Level 2: Using 240V outlets, this level offers a quicker charging solution. These chargers range from simple dryer plugs, easily installable in garages, to advanced J1772 EV charging stations. All RV parks have Level 2 outlets as well. Most EVs include adapters to work with these outlets, making them quite versatile. Level 2 chargers are commonly found at public charging stations, with J1772 plugs ensuring cross-manufacturer compatibility. Charging speeds depend on the available amperage but typically provide 30-90km of range per hour. A prominent version of this level is the NACS (North American Charging Standard), previously known as the Tesla Wall Connector, which has been officially adopted by major manufacturers, including GM, Ford, and Mercedes.

Level 3: Often known as ‘Fast Charging’ stations, these are the quickest public charging options ideal for long-distance EV travel. They can deliver up to 1600km of range per hour on empty batteries, slowing as the battery fills up. Typically, they can recharge a compatible EV within 15-40 minutes. Tesla’s version of this level, called the Supercharger, also utilizes the NACS. Other EVs use CCS or the less common CHAdeMO charging standard.

These charging levels cater to a variety of use cases, from everyday commuting to long-distance travel, ensuring EV drivers can conveniently maintain their vehicles’ charge.

What EVs are available in Alberta?

There is a wide variety of plug-in and full electric cars driving on roads year-round in Alberta.
Their numbers are growing dramatically every year as people experience the benefits of electric driving.

This is a partial list of BEVs vehicles sold in Alberta: albertaev.ca/evlist

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Charging an electric vehicle is more about convenience than time. Most EV owners charge their vehicles at home overnight, much like charging a mobile phone. So, in reality, it can feel like your car charges in just a few seconds – the time it takes to plug it in before you go to bed and unplug it in the morning. It eliminates the need for regular visits to a gas station, which is particularly appreciated in cold weather. It’s always a pleasant start to the day to find your car fully charged and ready to go without having to brave the elements.

For road trips or when you need a quick boost of range, DC fast charging stations, also known as Level 3 chargers, are a great option. They can provide significant charge to your vehicle in a short time – often 80% in around 30 minutes. So while you grab a coffee or lunch during your journey, your EV can be rapidly recharged and ready to go for the next leg of your trip. This makes long-distance travel in an EV very practical and comfortable.

Aren't EVs just coal powered in Alberta?

Electric vehicles in Alberta are not simply coal-powered. The province’s electricity comes from a mix of sources: as of 2022, it’s about 12% coal, 73% natural gas, 13% renewables, and 2% other sources. Notably, according to the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO)’s 2022 annual market statistics report, “for the first time, renewable generation provided more electricity than coal.”

We use AESO data to provide realtime emissions calculations:
Real-Time Alberta Power Generation Source Mix / Historic for other provinces.

(For more info & sources please see details here.)

EV owners in Alberta also have the opportunity to reduce their emissions even further. They can install solar panels on their property, or buy renewable energy from their provider. These options could reduce the emissions associated with charging their electric car to ‘net zero’ for the year.

Even a quick calculation using Alberta’s current energy mix demonstrates that EVs emit fewer greenhouse gases per 100km driven than many popular models of gasoline vehicles.

Remember, this calculation is a snapshot in time. As Alberta continues to increase the share of renewable energy in its electricity mix, the emissions associated with charging and driving an EV will continue to decrease. Meanwhile, emissions from a gasoline car will remain the same unless there are significant changes in vehicle technology or fuel composition.

In conclusion, even considering Alberta’s current energy mix, driving an EV produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than driving a gasoline car.

How long do the batteries last?

The batteries in Electric Vehicles (EVs) are designed with longevity in mind and are likely to outlast the life expectancy of the vehicle itself. Importantly, these batteries are quite different from those in our smartphones. While smartphone batteries often lack spare cell capacity and thermal management systems, these are key features incorporated into EV batteries to prolong their lifespan.

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) design EV batteries with durability as a priority and offer warranties for their lithium-ion batteries, typically covering eight years or 160,000 km of driving. Despite losing capacity over time – a trait all batteries share – the feedback we’ve received from EV owners in Alberta suggests this decline is quite modest, about 1% per year.

For a practical example, consider an EV that initially offers a range of approximately 450km per charge. Factoring in the estimated 1% annual reduction, you could anticipate about 405km of range remaining after 10 years of use. This far exceeds the average Canadian daily commute of 42 km.

One of our members has an EV with high mileage on it’s original battery.

These observations underscore that, even with a slight reduction in capacity over time, the robust design of EV batteries, including features like spare cell capacity and thermal management systems, allows them to meet daily commuting needs for many years, thus ensuring their longevity and value.

What happens to the battery at the end of it’s life?

At the end of its lifecycle in an electric vehicle, a battery starts its ‘second life’ in various applications such as serving as a standby power source for residential or commercial buildings, or as a storage system for renewable energy from sources like solar or wind. These applications extend the battery’s usefulness and help to reduce the environmental impact of producing new batteries.

When the battery has depleted its potential entirely, it isn’t simply discarded. Instead, it undergoes a recycling process where up to 95% of its valuable materials are recovered. This sustainable solution is executed by recycling companies such as Redwood Materials and Canada’s own Li-Cycle, ensuring that the battery materials are reused and not wasted.

To conclude, an electric vehicle’s battery goes through a comprehensive life cycle: from powering vehicles, to supporting energy systems, and finally, to being recycled for material recovery.

For more detailed information, watch this enlightening video on the topic.