Electric vehicles (EV) are expected to gain significant traction in the car buying world beginning in 2017 and moving into the next five years. Hydrogen powered vehicles are losing steam as the requisite infrastructure in not available and the logistics to make hydrogen powered cars work is simply too complex. Therefore, EV is marching forward at a torrent pace driven by the many advancements in the battery technology. The costs for EV is dropping and government credits for consumers to buy these EVs are so attractive that it is hard not to consider them as a viable option for your next car. Where you live; urban, suburban, rural, or remote will dramatically impact your decision and consideration for an EV. Urban and suburban buyers are keen, but rural and remote buyers are still not convinced even with the hefty government incentives.

BMW i8

As an example, the government of Ontario offers a rebate of up to $14,000 off the purchase of an electric car, 50% off the cost for buying and installing a charging station up to a maximum of $1,000 and a green license plate that permits drivers to use high-occupancy vehicle/toll (HOV/HOT) lanes when driving alone. The following vehicles are eligible for the incentive.

  • Audi A3 Sportback e-tron: $8,095
  • BMW i3: $13,000
  • BMW i8: $3,000
  • BMW X5 xDrive40e: $8,460
  • BMW 330e: $7,730
  • Ford C-Max Energi: $7,730
  • Ford Focus EV: $8,095
  • Ford Fusion Energi: $7,730
  • Chevrolet BOLT: $14,000
  • Chevrolet VOLT: $12,747
  • Hyundai Sonata PHEV: $8,460
  • Kia Soul EV: $11,789
  • Mercedes-Benz S550E: $3,000
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV: $8,999
  • Nissan LEAF: $12,164
  • Porsche Cayenne S E Hybrid: $3,000
  • Porsche Panamera S E Hybrid: $3,000
  • Tesla Model S: $3,000
  • Tesla Model X: $3,000
  • Volvo XC90 T8 Twin-Engine: $3,000

The greatest concern for EV style cars is related to range anxiety. This is a fear that the car will run out of energy and cause the driver to be stuck someplace with no way to resolve the charging dilemma. New EVs can typically travel at least 100 kilometres on a single charge.  Some battery EVs can go up to 160 kilometres on one charge, while plug-in hybrid electrics may travel more than 500 kilometres using a combination of battery and gasoline engine technology. The distance an EV can travel depends on:

  • the vehicle technology (battery electric or plug-in hybrid)
  • battery size
  • weight carried
  • temperature
  • accessories in use
  • an individual’s driving style

EVs don’t run out of charge unexpectedly.  As with gasoline-powered vehicles, the dashboard display will indicate your level of charge so you can plan your trips accordingly. But, in a country as large as Canada, this is a valid concern that still needs to be resolved to ease the fears of the consumer.

Most EV drivers will recharge their car overnight in the garage. But, often, long duration charging cannot be accomplished due to daytime schedules. So, how long does it take to recharge an EV, and do you need to give it a full charge every time it is plugged in? Charging times vary depending on things like temperature, your current level of battery charge and your battery capacity:

  • Plug-in hybrid: 1-4 hours to be fully charged on Level 2
  • Battery EV: 4-8 hours to be fully charged (from 0 to 100%) on Level 2

On average cars are parked at home for up to 14 hours per day and at work for up to eight hours a day.  All that time may be available for charging.

EV Charging Stations

If you have already received the provincial rebate for the purchase of an electric vehicle, you are eligible for a rebate to support the purchase of a Level 2 charging station.  You can plug your car into a regular household outlet but upgrading to a Level 2 (220V, 30amps) station, connected to the same type of plug you need for a dryer or stove, will let you charge your car faster.

  • Level 1 – (120 V / 15 Amps) AC (Alternating Current) – All fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids come standard with a cord set that plugs into a regular wall socket. Level 1 is a great option for plug-in hybrids that don’t have large battery packs and for drivers that live in places where installing a Level 2 station is difficult
  • Level 2 – (240 V / 30 Amps) AC (Alternating Current) – The most common charging station is Level 2. Easily installed in your garage or driveway, at storefronts and in parking lots, Level 2 stations can charge your electric car in 10 to 12 hours. Most of the stations you see in public spaces are Level 2. All electric cars and charging stations sold in North America use the same plug for Level 2. This means that any electric car can use any Level 2 station in Canada and the U.S.A.
  • Level 3 – (480 V / 100 Amps) DC (Direct Current) – Level 3 stations are often called “DC-Quick Chargers”. DC-Quick Chargers will charge your electric car in 25-30 minutes and are perfect for highway driving applications. Only fully electric cars have access to Level 3 charging. There are three standards of Level 3 charging:

o  CHAdeMO is a Japanese standard used by the Nissan LEAF, Kia Soul EV and Mitsubishi i-MiEV

o  SAE Combo is a European/North American standard used by the BMW i3

o  Tesla Supercharger is used by the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X. All Tesla vehicles can be purchased with adapters for the other two plug standards.

The Government of Ontario rebate example covers:

  • 50% of the purchase cost, up to $500, and
  • 50% of the installation cost, up to $500 (a maximum value of $1,000)

Most electric vehicles use lithium ion batteries. Lithium ion batteries have higher energy density, longer life span and higher power density than most other practical batteries. Complicating factors include safety, durability, thermal breakdown and cost. Li-ion batteries should be used within safe temperature and voltage ranges in order to operate safely and efficiently.

Increasing the battery’s lifespan decreases effective costs.

General Motors Bolt

Exactly how hot are EVs right now? Well, General Motors just picked up the crown jewel in the trifecta of trophies Monday for its new long-range electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt.

The Bolt was named North American Car of the Year, beating two conventionally powered luxury sedans, the Genesis G90 and the Volvo S90, in an announcement delivered at the North American International Auto Show.

Bolt is the first U.S.-made, mass-market, fully-electric car, beating Tesla Motors’ Model 3 to production. The vehicle has a range-per-charge of 238 miles, double most electric cars on the market except those from luxury automaker Tesla. Yet the Bolt, in many cases, is about half the price of Tesla’s Model S or X. It just went on sale with a starting price of $37,495 before federal tax credits kick in.

The Bolt was previously named Motor Trend Car of the Year and at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Green Car of the Year. It is not to be confused with the Chevrolet Volt, a pioneering plug-in car with a backup gas engine.  Bolt is a pure electric and has no gas engine.

Local Motor’s Olli with IBM’s Watson Cognitive Computing

In conclusion, it can be predicted that we are just now hitting the “tipping point” for the adoption of electric vehicles. After the global meltdown of diesel vehicles fueled by a few corrupt automotive executives, it is likely that the consumer is seriously disappointed in diesel powered cars.  Experts predict that they will instead make a mass shift towards EV. If this happens, then continuous research and development will accelerate resulting in a growth spurt for innovation. We continue to see companies outside of the classic automotive industry spend billions of dollars to capture a slice of the next generation car market. Notable entrants are Apple, Google, IBM, Tesla, Uber, Local Motors, Faraday Future, and many more.

Once the global market clutches its market share, the number of manufacturers will skyrocket and the costs for an EV will plummet downward. In 2016, more electric cars are sold in China than in the rest of the world combined, but are mainly locally-branded models that are cheaper and have a shorter range than those offered by foreign auto makers such as Tesla and Nissan.

The Chinese-branded electric vehicle market is propped up by huge government subsidies as part of Beijing’s policy to build global leadership in cleaner energy driving.

China has spent billions of dollars on subsidies to help companies including Warren Buffett-backed BYD and BAIC Motor achieve large-scale production of plug-in vehicles, which are gaining traction among urban drivers as well as taxi fleets and government agencies.

Sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrids increased 60 per cent in January-November, to 402,000 vehicles. By 2020, China wants 5 million plug-in cars on its roads.

The domestic EVs do not have the ‘wow’ factor of a fast, longer-range and luxury-style Tesla. They sell on price.

China’s Chery eQ Electric Vehicle

In Shanghai last year, a two-door battery electric Chery eQ cost around 60,000 yuan ($11,435) after subsidies.  Without subsidies, the eQ would cost an additional 100,000 yuan or so.  At this week’s Detroit auto show, General Motors showed off its latest Bolt EV, which costs around $31,000 after a $12,000 rebate in Ontario.

So, hang on for a crazy ride towards our electric vehicle future.

References:

A Guide to EV Charging. (2017). Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from, http://www.plugndrive.ca/guide-ev-charging

EV Eligible Participants. (2017). Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from, http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/vehicles/electric/charging-incentive-program.shtml

Incentives. (2017). Plug n Drive. Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from, https://www.plugndrive.ca/electric-car-incentives?gclid=Cj0KEQiA-_HDBRD2lomhoufc1JkBEiQA0TVMmsVfyNX21HrHHLo6zK5WfMCv-jm6iNiId9bcimQJJN8aAhNR8P8HAQ

Lithium-Ion Battery. (2017). Wikipedia. Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_vehicle

Spring, J. (2017). How more electric cars are sold in China than the rest of the world combined. The Globe and Mail Inc. Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/news/industry-news/how-more-electric-cars-are-sold-in-china-than-the-rest-of-the-world-combined/article33615077/

Travel Distance to a Charge. (2017). Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from, http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/vehicles/electric/charging-electric-vehicle.shtml

Woodyard, C. (2017). GM’s Chevrolet Bolt electric car wins North American Car of the Year. USA Today. Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from, http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2017/01/09/gms-chevrolet-bolt-electric-car-wins-north-american-car-year/96334822/