Frequently Asked Questions

How far can you go on a charge?

Most pure electric cars can go about 250km before needing to be recharged. Most people drive much less than that in a day. They’ll charge overnight at home and be good for the day.
The Tesla Model S has a much longer range, about 500 km. Other cars, like the Chevrolet Volt, go a much shorter distance on battery power but include a gas engine to extend the range of the battery.

What happens if I run out of charge? Will I be stranded?

In practice, very few EV owners get stranded, just as few people run out of gas. The car shows you how much range you have left and you charge when you need to. But if despite that you do run out of power, all EV vendors have a number you can call and they will assist you.

Where can I charge?

Most people charge at home. You can use a standard 100V outlet. If you have a 240V dryer outlet, that will be quicker.

You might be able to charge at work, depending on your employer.

Finally, you can charge at a public charging station. The Plugshare website is a terrific source of information on the location of public chargers.

How much does it cost to charge?

If you charge at home, you will pay standard rates for electricity to charge your car. That amounts to 3–5 times less than what it costs to fuel a gas-powered car. Some employers provide free charging at work for their employees. There are many public charging stations (over 250 in the Lower Mainland), for example at shopping malls and libraries, and many of those are free.

What happens if I have to replace the battery?

First off, replacing the battery is not a regular event. The batteries are designed to have a long lifetime and all EV manufacturers provide warranties for their batteries, typically for 8 years.

Any degradation will happen very slowly over time and the batteries can be expected to be quite usable for many years.

But suppose you do have to replace the battery—what would that cost? Nissan provided us with one data point when they announced a battery replacement program for the LEAF. The cost is $5,499 plus installation fees and tax.

Are electric cars safe?

Electric cars are some of the safest vehicles on the road. Gasoline cars are so common that accidents and fires involving them aren’t news even though they are very common. Electric cars don’t have carry a big tank of explosive liquid with them, and they are generally more crash-worthy because no gas engine means they have larger crumple zones.

You will hear about the occasional fire involving an electric car battery, but in reality that happens only in extreme circumstances. In the rare case when it does happen, a battery fire is slow-burning and you generally have lots of time to exit the vehicle safely.

What about the cost?

The total cost of an electric car over its lifetime is often less than that of a comparable gas car. They cost a bit more up front but you get that back in fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs. The details depend on which car you buy and what you are comparing it to. This Website shows a cost comparison between several popular electric cars and their gas-powered equivalents.

What electric cars are available in Canada?

Click on these site names to get a summary: Plug’n Drive, BCAA