As certified insurance brokers, we at Lane’s have been asked to find coverage for just about every kind of vehicle, but there is one type that we still don’t see that often. While hybrids are relatively common in Alberta, fully electric vehicles are still a rarity. In fact, Alberta has the lowest number of electric vehicles per capita of all the largest provinces, says the CBC. In Quebec, 42% of residents own an electric vehicle. Ontario is next with 35%, and B.C. follows with about 20%. Alberta comes in just ahead of all the other provinces and territories combined at 2%.
In all reality there still aren’t that many different kinds of electric vehicles on the market, which may be one reason why Albertans don’t seem to be that interested. The most common you’ll see are the Chevy Spark, the Chevy Volt, the Volkswagen E-Golf, the Fiat 500, the Kia Soul, and the Nissan Leaf. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a Tesla, which are actually the world’s best-selling electric vehicle.
It could also be that there are still a few myths and preconceptions out there about electric vehicles that are causing people pause before considering one for purchase. Here are some of the one we are still hearing, and whether or not they should be considered before buying.
You Can’t Drive Very Far
The range of electric vehicles varies, but UCDavis’s Plug-On Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Research Centre put the average distance they can travel at about 160 kilometres per charge. Manufacturers are working hard to keep increasing this number. The Tesla Model S has the longest range, at about 400 kilometres.
Natural Resources Canada estimates the average mileage per year in Canada is about 15,200 kilometres, which puts daily driving distances at about 42 kilometres. That means that most people will easily be able to carry out their daily tasks on a single charge and still have lots of juice left to spare.
Electric Vehicles Don’t Work in the Cold
Of main concern to those of us in frigid Canada is whether or not an electric vehicle is reliable in the winter. The truth is, all vehicles become less efficient in colder weather, says MyEV.com. But yes, electric vehicle owners can expect to lose quite a few kilometres on a charge once the temperature drops below -6 Celsius.
Different types of electric vehicles run for different lengths of time, so let’s use the Nissan Leaf as an example. The average distance they can travel on a single charge is about 240 kilometres. Given that its operating distance will drop by about 40% in the winter, owners can expect their range to drop to about 144 kilometres. This should actually be ample for people to get through several days of commuting and errands before having to charge.
Interestingly, gas-powered vehicles can expect to see a drop of about 20% of their mileage in similar temperatures, so the difference between the two is only 20%.
My Electricity Bill Will Go Up
We all know that electricity bills are a significant monthly cost, and nobody wants to see theirs go up more than it has to, but the truth is that electric vehicles don’t take that much to charge. Plus, your annual savings on gas should more than make up the difference. And although the cost of electricity does vary, it is much more stable than the price of gas. So that consistency is also nice.
The mileage for regular, gas-powered vehicles is measured in miles-per-gallon (mpg). For electric vehicles, it’s measured in kilowatt-hours per 100 miles (kWh/100 miles). Right now, ENMAX is offering one-year fixed rates at 6.29¢ per kilowatt hours. Using calculations provided by autotrader.ca using a Chevy Bolt as the baseline, which uses17.6 kWh to drive 100 km, at the current rate provided by ENMAX, “filling ‘er up” will cost just $1.11.
If you are considering purchasing an electric vehicle, it’s a good idea to have a 240-volt outlet installed in your garage. This will greatly reduce charging times.
You can also help offset some the (slight) added electricity expenses by making some minor changes in your home routine. Keeping your energy bills low is also good for the environment.
There Are No Charging Stations
It’s true that Calgary and Alberta are lagging in providing charging stations for electric vehicles, but there are more than you may think. ChargePoint has charging stations set up throughout Calgary in convenient locations, with several downtown. ChargeHub can also help you find nearby charging stations.
Can an Electric Vehicle Earn Me a Discount on My Insurance?
Several of our car insurance providers offer what is called a Green Vehicle Discount, which can save you about 5% on your premiums. In addition, most electric vehicles have what is called an automatic emergency braking system, which may be able to earn you an additional 15% off.
Insurance brokers are your ally in the insurance business. It’s our job to find you the best car insurance coverage at the very best rates out there. Give us a call at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton, or greater Alberta offices to see what we can do for you.