There are many good reasons to love electric vehicles (EVs), most of them practical and some highly emotional.
I love how quick they are. A modest little Chevrolet Bolt — $30,406 will Ontario’s incentives — will do 0-100 km/hour in less than 7.0 seconds. A lightning-fast Tesla Model S in Ludicrous mode — $186,200 — recently cracked 2.3 seconds in a 0-60 MPH test done by Motor Trend. Did I mention EVs are also allowed to use HOV commuter lanes, even if only one person is on board?
That’s the drag strip report. What about ride quality and handling? Well, smart battery spreads out vehicle weight to maximize comfort and responses. Yes, a Model S and a Bolt both are entertaining in corners. True, those batteries add weight, but today’s EVs do not feel lumpy and unbalanced. The extra heft is well and smartly spread out.
The “green” piece also delivers an emotional lift. Nothing comes from an EVs tailpipe and if the source of electricity is clean – hydro-electric, for instance – your conscience is free to delight in the driving.
Sure, in places like Alberta, where nearly half the electricity comes from coal-fired plants, the “green” dividend is not so obvious. But overall, in North America only about a third of the electric grid runs on coal. And despite President Trump’s worst instincts, coal is on its way out as an energy source.
That said, EVs make sense in more practical ways. They typically have 80 per cent fewer parts, reducing manufacturing and maintenance costs. A Tesla Model S has a drivetrain with 11 parts, compared to 1,500 for a conventional gasoline vehicle.
An EV requires minimal maintenance. Critical software updates can be uploaded wirelessly and seamlessly during the night. Sure, you’ll need to rotate the tires every now and then, and some parts will wear out – windshield wipers and such. But EV are low-maintenance vehicles.
EVs are cheap to run, too. A good rule of thumb: the cost to fuel an EV comes in at about one-eighth that of a gasoline car. Charging at a public station is free. The early adopters who buy EVs are wealthy, which means businesses from hotels to big box stores to public markets are putting charging stations in place. Juice up for free, at least for now.
Obviously EVs are unproven in the marketplace, at least in numbers equivalent to vehicles using internal combustion engines (ICE). After all, the world’s roads are filled with nearly one billion vehicles – and some 90 million or more new ICE vehicles are sold annually around the globe. ICE technology is proven and understandable, supported by a well-proven infrastructure of fuel stations and service centres.
But as EV sales ramp up, as battery cars move into the hands of consumers in growing numbers, questions and concerns about their use and viability will be asked and answered. Expect the marketplace place to respond to EVs in a very positive way.