Welcome to the Future
The 50th year of the Canadian International Auto Show broke several daily attendance records. Over 330,000 visitors passed through the Metro Toronto Convention Centre doors, a sign there continues to be a strong interest in upcoming automobiles. For two weeks in February, over 650,000 square feet of automobile displays, and test drives were made available. Contrary to a local dealership, there was no feeling of high-pressure sales tactics at this event, a factor that made perusing the manufacturer offerings a relaxed family friendly experience. The latest cars, trucks, SUVs, and concept cars were here. From timeless, limited production exotics to classic muscle cars, automotive enthusiasts found a model that brought back memories. I would be remiss if I did not mention, I did not see my baby blue 1975 Chevy Vega station wagon anywhere. Oh well, maybe next year?
I browsed through the massive halls for hours and soaked up as much as I could about leading innovations. I have had my eye on electric vehicles (EVs) for a while and got comfortable behind the steering wheel of many of my favourite cars. I imagined myself silently maneuvering around fossil fuel cars that will one day be fossilized in automotive history.
Can you imagine carrying a gasoline generator on the roof of your EV? How much range is enough before feeling comfortable leaving the house for a weekend getaway? For myself, I do not want a limit placed on the distance I can drive in one day. On a holiday trip, I can drive 12 to 14 hours and more, stopping only for washroom and snack breaks and the necessary gasoline fill ups. Driving my internal combustion engine (ICE) car, I can range approximately 600 km between fill ups.
According to Car and Driver magazine, the Tesla Model S Long Range Plus, has a real world range a little north of 500 km at 100 km/h.
Theoretically speaking, this does not seem terrible.
- I could drive 5-hours one way at 100 km/h
- I could drive 6 ¼ -hours one way at 80 km/h
- I could drive 8 1/3-hours one way at 60 km/h.
The faster a vehicle is driven, whether it be an ICE or an EV, the more energy is required to keep it in motion at a given speed.
The same source estimates the Ford Mustang Mach E 4X GT, real world range to be a little north of 350 km at 100 km/h.
Again, theoretically speaking, I am having range anxiety.
- I could drive 3 1/2-hours one way at 100 km/h
- I could drive 4 3/8 -hours one way at 80 km/h
- I could drive 5 3/4-hours one way at 60 km/h.
As several car manufacturer representatives pointed out to me, I need to choose an EV that will fit my lifestyle. The answer lies somewhere between a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson energy gobbling pick up truck and a car Ebenezer Scrooge would be proud to own. Here is a suggested starting guideline:
- How far will I drive in one day?
- Will I need to shuttle family to weekend events?
- How many people will be in my car?
- At which speed do I normally drive, fast or slow?
- What is the likelihood that I go on a long road trip?
- Is a pickup truck or SUV necessary?
Rethinking my range fear, I considered how many times my daily commute would truly be over 2 ½ hours. Oftentimes a commute speed could vary between 50 and 100 km/h, possibly providing an opportunity for a greater driving range. Re-examining those six questions has made me realize these are the same questions I would pose if buying an ICE vehicle. How different would it be to own an EV?
There is no way around it, winter is cold, and I do not want to be a frozen popsicle. I will turn up the heat and it will cost me battery range. Just turning on my seat warmer, the window defroster or just blowing some nice warm air at my feet; it all draws power from the batteries. My research has found that some EVs can lose up to 50% driving range, however the average loss in range seems to be closer to 20%. Careful consideration needs to be made in choosing an EV that can perform favourably during winter conditions. A larger (longer) EV may have an advantage here as compared to a small car because more physical volume is available for carrying a larger battery pack. As well, I would expect driving range at any time of year to be greater relative to a smaller EV.
The ambiguity of gasoline filling stations has always been part of my driving experience. I feel confident I will find one, even if running on fumes. How many charging stations would I need to pass before getting over the fear of being stranded with my lithium-ion anchor? I searched online to determine how many recharging facilities are in Canada and how many are near me. It turns out there are thousands upon thousands of recharging facilities, and more are coming online every day. Governments and corporations are working together to increase the availability of recharging facilities in preparation for 2035, the year in which ICE vehicles will cease to be sold in Canada.
I spoke to neighbours who are driving EVs everyday and asked them about recharging. They report they have little fear of running out of battery power. When driving longer distances from home, planning is essential. Depending on the facility, a recharge may take as little as 15 minutes to as long as many hours. It depends on how much “fuel” you want to purchase and the type of charger. A representative from Tesla pointed out the following:
- single family homes will have a charger
- workplaces are providing charging stations
- shopping centers and municipal properties have stations
- multi-unit residential buildings and low density regions are slower to install the necessary infrastructure.
A complete recharge is not always necessary to get to your destination.
Level 1 charger, a 120-volt household outlet will provide 3 to 8 kilometers of range per hour.
Level 2 charger, a 240-volt household or commercial outlet will provide 16 to 48 kilometers of range per hour.
Level 3 charger, a 400-plus volt commercial outlet will provide 240 to 560 kilometers of range per hour.
A key point made by my neighbours was that most, (80%), of their charging needs are done at home with level 1 or level 2 chargers.
So Which EV Would I Choose?
AWD Volvo XC40 Recharge has a 359 km range with a 75 kWh battery pack. It seats 5 and with seats folded down has a 1328 liter cargo capacity. Vehicle length is 4440mm.
The 300kw motor Volvo has a 24.5kw/100km efficiency rating. A fast charger will achieve 80% capacity in 37 minutes.
Price is Can$62,700
AWD Volkswagen ID4 Pro has a 410 km range with a 82 kWh battery pack. It seats 5 and with seats folded down has a 1880 liter cargo capacity. Vehicle length is 4584mm.
The 220kw VW motor has a 22.6kw/100km efficiency rating. A fast charger will achieve 80% capacity in 30 minutes.
Price is Can$55,600.
AWD Hyundai Ioniq 5 has a 488 km range with a 77.4 kWh battery pack. It seats 5 and with seats folded down has a 1680 liter cargo capacity. Vehicle length is 4635mm.
The 239kw Ioniq 5 motor has a 18.6kw/100km efficiency rating. A fast charger will achieve 80% capacity in 18 minutes.
Price is Can$57,700.
I ruled out a pickup truck or large SUV because I do not need the carrying capacity. Nor do I need a $100,000 plus EV, not without Elon’s kind of money. I will be a little more practical but also move up from entry level EVs. Surprisingly, I found the entry level EVs at the show very comfortable and well equipped. I created a criterion for what is important to me:
- Seating for 5 passengers
- All wheel drive with winter tires
- Hatchback for easier to loading and unloading
- Fast charging capabilities and a 400 km range
- Comfortable ride for long travel destinations
- Two accessible front cup holders.
The Winner Is
I keep my cars for at least 10 years, therefore I have another 5 years before making a decision. But, if I had to choose today, the Volvo XC40 Recharge was comfortable and it would check many boxes for a long trip. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 also satisfied most of my concerns and has the longest range. It is the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada utility vehicle of the year. The lowest priced of the three, the VW has the most cargo capacity. In the meantime, prices, model selection and technology will improve. All industry representatives I spoke to say this is a quickly evolving technology, new ideas are in constant development.
The Future is Here
Thinking back to when I was a young boy, I remember reading an edition of Popular Mechanics magazine where the article was about cars of the future. Cars with airplane wings will quickly transport mom, dad and the kids to a pastural destination for an afternoon picnic. Levitating cars will transport workers quickly; never an angry word spoken due to road rage. I read a lot of science fiction back then; it was all so far away from my 12-year-old world.
EV range, recharging and vehicle cost are of concern today, but judging from scientific research being done, these difficulties are mere speed bumps on the path to a cleaner atmosphere and reduction in global warming. New sodium-ion battery technology is on the horizon, solid-state batteries are in development. The future is here.
6 thoughts on “EV Cars; You Will Be Assimilated”
We are a two car family. When we decided to replace one, we switched to an EV – the Nissan Leaf. It’s range us about 150 miles. But we typically do not use it to drive long distances. It’s for getting us around town, which is where we do the majority of our driving. That said we do drive it to our daughter’s which is 139 miles. We can’t (or dare not) do it without charging once because we live in the mountains, which is different from driving on level ground. Anyway, we charge when we stop for lunch. It means we are eating in our car, but the charging us free for Nissans at at any Nissan dealership. And Nissan has facilities for other brands as well, although there is a charge for it. And then her apartment complex has free charging. It’s just a matter of learning to do a different way. However, for really long distances, we do rely on our gas powered car. I expect as more charging facilities crop up that will change. Oh and our Leaf cost $32,000 (US dollars).
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Yes, I’d say there needs to be new mindset with EV ownership. Eventually it will all be a normal part of our day. I hope. These new technologies have me thinking back to the transitional period from the horse and buggy days.
Oh wow, that’s a lot of info there, and the legwork you must’ve done to put all this together. I’ve been thinking a lot about this as well. Like driving to another state in my country is fine with a gasoline car. EV though? I’d need to plot out my charging along the way. That’s a different challenge altogether. Thanks for this post!
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Thanks for reading this post Stuart.
EVs are a totally different mindset.
Very interesting indeed.I am seriously considering an EV. We drive to Florida each winter and it is almost 2400K. I have a friend with a Tesla and she drove down here this year. She said her Tesla has GPS that tells her where the charging stations are on her route. Do you know if other EVS have this ? Anyway thanks for all your info.
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Stay in Florida for now. I’m heading outside to shovel some more white gold this morning.
I too am looking to make my next car an EV. I’ve downloaded the Plug Share app to my phone. It could then be used with a car using Car Play or Android Auto. It can help plan routes and highlight charging stations.
To get over with the charging anxiety issue before I buy an EV, I’m using it on longer car trips. This way I can see where EV charging stations are located on route to my usual destinations.