The Electric Car: Now a Viable Option

August 01, 2017

By Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC


The future is here...or so the old adage goes. Well, the future of driving at least is fast becoming a reality as electric vehicles (EV’s) are becoming more accessible to the average consumer. Thanks to visionaries like Elon Musk and his Tesla electric cars, high production, low (and I use this term lightly) cost EV’s are now here and ready for consumers to drive off into the sunset...or at least as far as the battery will last.

It’s like computers. Remember when computers had a laughable 64k memory? (For the record my first home computer had 16k). Every year thereafter memory and power would quadruple or more and now our tiny smartphones are far beyond anything home computers from the 90’s could do. The same is happening with EV’s. Every year the next model has more range and is offered for less money. Such as tech goes.

There have been a few major stumbling blocks for consumers when it comes to getting an all-electric car. Cost, battery range/charge times, and infrastructure availability; ie: where can I charge my car when I’m not at home? This creates a lot of anxiety in the consumer and this is a big, big market long entrenched in conventional driving. The anxieties won’t affect the early adopter ilk but for regular folk like myself, these components make buying one a pipe dream. Until now.

2017 and 2018 EV models are doing a lot to dispel the anxiety around such cars. To make it even better for consumers, with more players entering the market the usual high cost of such cars is a lot! Throw in government incentives, as much as $14,000 in Ontario, and you’re into an EV at the same price as a conventional car. Here in BC, the government incentive brings the price down by $5000. Still pretty good when you consider new market entries start at roughly $36,000. It's not an entry level 4-banger price, but not bad considering the tech you're getting.

Take the new Volkswagen E-Golf and the new Hyundai Ioniq. Both now sport more than 200 clicks on a single charge. For the average work commute, this should be more than enough. In fact, with regenerative breaking and one-pedal driving, many claim these cars will go even further. The Golf is rated in Europe at 300km. Make no mistake, a lot has to happen to reach that distance: optimal driving conditions, little baggage or passenger weight, regenerative braking, no AC, no highway driving, and being easy on the gas ped...erm...electric go-maker throttle pedal thing?? 

Both makes and others can also be 80% charged in 30 minutes if you install 220V or 240V charging stations in your garage. Conventional 120V may work for you but it does take half a day at least to charge from empty. Most car companies with EV’s offer the voltage options. In terms of infrastructure, there are now over 550 Level 2 charging stations across BC and that number is growing. That fun fact does not include dedicated Tesla Superchargers.

Does that mean cars like these, even the new Tesla Model 3 that touts a 400km+ range, will change every driver’s mind? Not really. If you have a long commute or do a lot of weekend trips, have a budget under 30 grand or live in a Vancouver condo and can't access power then these may not be for you, for now. In fact, EV sales, in general, are still dwarfed by the internal combustion engine. Also, there is a cost (albeit far less than gas) to charging an EV, they still have limited availability and ultimately an unproven track record. At the end of the day, however, there is now a lot more choice and affordability in this space and if you take a gander at the cars on the streets of Vancouver you can clearly see the shift happening right before your eyes.