EV Frequently Asked Questions

General

Are electric vehicle purchase incentives available in Nova Scotia?

Under the new iZEV Program, the Government of Canada is offering rebates of up to $5,000 for the purchase or lease of qualifying zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). The rebate is applied directly to the sticker price at the dealership at the time of purchase or lease.

There are two levels of incentive:

  • up to $5,000 for battery electric, longer-range plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) or hydrogen fuel vehicles; and
  • up to $2,500 for shorter range PHEVs.

There are two categories of qualifying vehicles:

  • vehicles with six seats or fewer, where the base model (trim) Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is less than $45,000. Higher priced trims, up to a maximum MSRP of $55,000, are also be eligible for purchase incentives; or
  • vehicles with seven seats or greater, where the base model MSRP is less than $55,000. Higher priced trims of these vehicles, up to a maximum MSRP of $60,000, are also be eligible for purchase incentives.

You will still be eligible for the incentive even if delivery, freight and other fees, such as vehicle colour and add-on accessories, push the actual purchase price over these set limits.

For more information and to view a list of qualifying vehicles, visit the iZEV Program website.

There are no additional incentives available from the Province of Nova Scotia.

What is an electric vehicle?

Electric vehicles (often abbreviated to EVs) are cars or trucks that get their power from electricity instead of gas. Instead of filling up the tank they can be recharged by being plugged into an external source of electricity, such as a wall socket.

Some EVs are 100% powered by electricity. Others, called plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), have both a gas-powered engine and an electric motor and can switch between gas and electric modes.

What is the difference between an electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, can be powered both by gasoline and by charging them with electricity. They have a gasoline engine and a rechargeable battery pack and can operate in either electric or gas-powered modes.

What are the benefits of owning an electric vehicle?

There are many benefits to owning an EV. EVs have thousands fewer moving parts than conventional cars. Oil filters? Spark plugs? Alternators? Clutches? Those parts don’t exist in an EV, so they are much cheaper to operate — that means less time spent on maintenance and more money in your pocket.

EVs are also cheaper to drive — powering your car with electricity can save as much as three times more than a gas-powered car.

Tired of having to find a gas-station on your way to work? Imagine waking up every morning with a full tank of gas! EVs are like cell phones, you plug them in every night, and you wake up to a full battery.

EVs are also more responsive than gas-powered cars, allowing you to accelerate faster in tricky driving conditions. And when you brake in an EV the electric motor helps you slow down and by doing so recharges the battery. This helps you drive further on every charge. It also means your brake pads don’t get worn out as quickly and don’t have to be replaced as often.

You won’t find a quieter vehicle; without a noisy internal combustion engine EVs are whisper-quiet and help cut down on noise pollution.

And EVs are good for the environment and public health. While gasoline combustion in a conventional vehicle produces greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and particulate pollutants that contribute to smog, EVs produce no tailpipe emissions.

Do any Teslas models quality for the federal electric vehicle incentive?

Yes, the 2019 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range (MSRP $44,999, range 150 km) and Standard Range Plus (MSRP $53,700, range 386 km) vehicles qualify for the rebate of up to $5,000. (The $5,000 rebate is available for vehicle purchases or leases with terms of 48 months; shorter term leases are eligible for smaller rebates.)

You can order the Standard Range Plus Model 3 online. The Model 3 Standard Range can only be purchased by calling Tesla or visiting a Tesla Store.

Other Tesla models are not eligible for the rebate.

How do I purchase a Tesla, since there are no dealerships in Nova Scotia?

Nearly all Tesla models (Model 3 Standard Range Plus trim, S, and X) can be ordered online from the Tesla website. The exception is the Model 3 Standard Range trim, which can only be ordered by calling Tesla or visiting a store. Contact information is available on the Tesla website.

Charging

Can I plug my electric vehicle in to a regular wall outlet, or does it need a special charger?

You can recharge your EV by plugging it into a regular wall outlet (AKA, Level 1), the same way you charge your cellphone. A typical EV will add around 7-9 km of additional range per hour of charging in a standard wall socket. So if your car is regularly parked in your driveway or garage overnight and you don’t have a long daily commute, this may be a good option for you.

For those who want a faster charge, you can install a Level 2 charging station, these chargers require the same type of electrical outlet as your kitchen stove. This is the most common type of public charger, often found at community centers or in public parking lots. With these Level 2 chargers you can add around 30 km of range per hour of charging.

Can I use an extension cord when charging my electric vehicle?

Many manufacturers warn against using an extension cord when charging an EV because the cords can overheat when charging for extended periods. For this reason, we do not recommend using a standard home extension cord to charge your EV.

Some EVs are 100% powered by electricity. Others, called plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), have both a gas-powered engine and an electric motor and can switch between gas and electric modes.

Does my electric vehicle come with a charger?

All EVs come standard with a charger that can be plugged into a regular wall outlet. All EVs can be charged with a Level 2 charger, but in most cases, you will have to purchase it separately.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?

Charging time varies according to several factors, especially the make and model of your EV, how much charge it has when you plug it in, and the kind of charging station you are using. EVs plugged into regular home wall sockets can charge at a rate of approximately 7-9 km of range per hour.

If you want a faster charge, you can install a home charging station (sometimes called “Electric Vehicle Service Equipment”, or “EVSE”). These are also known as “Level 2” charging stations, and charge at a rate of roughly 30 km of range per hour. The fastest charging happens at Level 3 or “fast charging” stations, which can charge at an estimated rate of 250 km per hour.

Keep in mind that depending on how far you need to drive your EV, it may not need a full charge. Many late model EVs available in Canada have ranges of over 250 km on a full charge. If your regular commute to and from work (with maybe a stop for groceries and a school pick-up thrown in the mix) is less than this, you wouldn’t need a fully-charged battery for daily use.

Finally, a note about something called “tapering” which happens at fast charging stations. When a battery is almost fully depleted, it charges much faster than a battery that is nearly full. This decrease in the rate of charging over time is called tapering. Tapering starts to become noticeable at around 50% charge, but really picks up over 80% charge. So, unless you really want to maximize your EV’s range, you generally want to charge up to 80% at fast charging stations.

EVs are also cheaper to drive — powering your car with electricity can save as much as three times less than a gas-powered car.

Tired of having to find a gas-station on your way to work? Imagine waking up every morning with a full tank of gas! EVs are like cell phones, you plug them in every night, and you wake up to a full battery.

EVs are also more responsive than gas-powered cars, allowing you to accelerate faster in tricky driving conditions. And when you brake in an EV the electric motor helps you slow down and by doing so recharges the battery. This helps you drive further on every charge. It also means your brake pads don’t get worn out as quickly and don’t have to be replaced as often.

You won’t find a quieter vehicle; without a noisy internal combustion engine EVs are whisper-quiet and help cut down on noise pollution.

And EVs are good for the environment and public health. While gasoline combustion in a conventional vehicle produces greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and particulate pollutants that contribute to smog, EVs produce no tailpipe emissions.

Can I over-charge an electric vehicle by accident?

No. All EVs have built-in safeguards that prevent overcharging.

What are the different types of charging stations?

People in the industry talk about three levels of charging station — Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. The higher the number, the faster it charges your EV.

Level 1 is just another name for a regular wall outlet. Depending on the EV, one hour of charging on a Level 1 station adds roughly 7-9 km of range.

Level 2 stations are the most commonly available type of public charging station. Many EV owners also choose to install a Level 2 station at home to speed up charging, as an hour at a Level 2 station adds approximately 30 km of range.

Level 3 stations are also known as “fast charging” stations, they can charge at a rate of 250 km per hour and are most often used when driving long distances between destinations. They are very expensive to install, and so are not as common as Level 2 charging stations.

Can all charging stations charge all types of electric vehicles?

All EVs can charge at Level 2 stations. Some plug-in-hybrids do not have the ability to use Level 3 charging stations (check with your dealer before purchasing).

The Tesla Model 3 EV cannot use public Level 3 charging stations without a CHAdeMO Adapter accessory, which is available online from the Tesla website. Other Tesla Models (X and S) do not require these adapters to use Level 3 charging stations. And all Tesla EV models also have access to proprietary “Super Chargers” that other EVs models cannot use.

How do I find public charging stations?

As of March 2019, there are over 5,000 charging stations in Canada, of which there are approximately 325 in the Maritime provinces, and these numbers are growing all the time!

The easiest way to find a charging station near you is to visit Plugshare.com, which shows all public charging stations on a map that is being continually updated.

What does it cost to charge my electric vehicle?

The cost of charging your EV’s battery depends on several factors, the most important of which are the make and model of your EV, how much charge it has when you plug it in, the kind of charging station you are using, and the cost of electricity in your jurisdiction.

Here in Nova Scotia, with gasoline priced at $1.20 per litre, driving an average compact car 100km will cost you $11.44 in fuel, an average SUV or minivan will be $14.80. Electric vehicles on the other hand are more efficient and will only cost $2.80 in electricity to cover that same 100km. Driving an electric vehicle can save you $1,500 or more on fuel costs per year, depending on your yearly mileage.

When at public stations, the costs can vary. Some public Level 2 charging stations are free to use. The Level 3 fast-charging will cost between $3 and $5 for a 15-minute charge.

How much do home charging stations cost?

A typical Level 2 station will cost between $500 and $1,500, with most stations in the $800 – $1,200 range. The parts and labour to complete the installation can vary drastically depending on a variety of factors but will often cost an additional $500 to $1,500, assuming you don’t have to upgrade your electrical service or panel to enable installation. You should contact a licensed electrician prior to purchasing a charging station to find out if you need to do any preliminary work to accommodate the station.

If you live in an apartment or condo, you should consult your landlord or condo board before purchasing a charging station.

Level 3 charging stations are prohibitively expensive for home installations (over $70,000) — they are often installed by businesses or energy utilities.

Who installs home charging stations?

We recommend having the station installed by a licensed electrician. Nova Scotia Power has an approved list of electricians that can complete installations.

What if I live in a multi-unit condo or apartment building – how do I charge my electric vehicle?

Some newer multi-unit buildings in Nova Scotia have Level 2 charging stations available for use by residents, but these are not yet common. If you own an EV and are planning to move to a multi-unit building, you many need to rely on public charging stations. Be sure to contact your prospective landlord or condo board to confirm.

Is there a better time of day or night for me to charge my electric vehicle?

Most Nova Scotians pay the same price for electricity regardless of the time of day, so there’s no price advantage to charging at one time or another.

If you have installed a qualifying electric-based space heating system and have access to Time-of-Day (TOD) rates with Nova Scotia Power, then charging your EV during off-peak hours can shave even more money off the cost of driving.

What happens if I do run out of charge while on the road?

If you do run out of charge unexpectedly, you can call a tow truck to get towed to the nearest public charging station. For EV drivers who are CAA members, you can call the Roadside Assistance line (1-800-222-4357) to get a tow to a charging station. Depending on your membership level, your tow could be free.

Performance

How far can an electric vehicle go on a single charge?

This is a common question, but one that’s a bit of a hold-over from the world of gas-powered cars. When you need to leave home to find a gas station to fuel up, it makes sense to think in terms of how far you can drive before you have to find another gas station.

But having an EV means that your fueling station is as close as your nearest wall socket. In this way, EVs are more like cellphones than gas-powered cars. We typically don’t ask how long a cellphone can go on a single charge. Sure, it needs enough battery life to get you through a typical day, but whether it has 25% or 50% charge left once you get back home doesn’t really matter.

Many late model EVs available in Canada have ranges of over 250 km on a full charge. But if your regular commute to and from work (with maybe a stop for groceries and a school pick-up thrown in the mix) is less than this, you wouldn’t need a fully-charged battery to start your day.

How fast can electric vehicles go?

Think getting an EV means rolling along in the slow lane? Think again! While internal combustion engines often have to downshift to accelerate quickly, electric motors don’t have a transmission and react immediately when you hit the accelerator.  Electric motors inherently have high torque output meaning that EVs accelerate faster than gas-powered cars, and many have top speeds that are comparable with high-performance gas-powered cars.

Can an electric vehicle still operate when it’s cold outside?

We all know that bitter cold Canadian winters can be hard on regular car batteries, but what about EVs? Because plugging your EV in at night means that electricity is keeping your battery warm, EVs don’t have the same issues that some gas-powered vehicles do with failing to start in frigid temperatures.

However, very cold temperatures (-20°C or colder) can reduce an EV’s range by as much as 40%. This is because the battery is not only powering the car, it’s working harder to heat the car’s interior as well as running the motor. (Gas-powered cars also become less efficient in the cold, but the decrease is less noticeable.)

One trick to minimize the efficiency loss in the cold is to pre-condition your EV’s battery. Many models offer the option pre-programming a departure time, often through a cell phone app, and the EV will begin to warm up the battery and interior cabin before you leave. Because a warm battery is more efficient than a cold one, this can help preserve range. Another tip is to put your car in eco mode on very cold days. This primes your car to work more efficiently. It may feel a bit more sluggish, but it will be preserving battery power. One final trick is to rely on your heated seats rather than the vehicle’s air conditioning system to keep warm, which will reduce the drain on the battery.

And did you know Norway, a Nordic country, has one of the highest EV ownership rates in the world?

How do electric vehicles hold up to winter driving conditions like snow and slush?

EVs tend to have a more responsive, road-hugging feel as a by-product of their lower centre of gravity. By placing the main battery in the lowest point in the vehicle, often under the floor, will result in a lower centre of gravity. This means the vehicle will often have less “roll” and feel planted when cornering. Whether it’s nice and sunny or you’re driving through slush and snow, EVs can easily navigate all road conditions.

Environmental Benefits

Why are electric vehicles better for the environment?

Internal combustion engines produce by-products from burning gas that can harm the environment and air quality. Burning gasoline produces greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide that contribute to climate change. Burning gas or diesel also produces particulate hydrocarbons that contribute smog and poor air quality. EVs have no tailpipe emissions (although, like gas-powered vehicles, there are emissions created in their production, transportation and end-of-life).

What if we still burn fossil fuels like coal to make the electricity that powers my electric vehicle?

There is a misconception that unless the electricity grid that powers your EV is 100% renewable, the EV is no better than a gas-powered car. This is not true. Bloomberg NEF recently found that, even if the electricity that powered it was 100% coal-fired, a Tesla Model S making a 1000-mile road trip would still have fewer associated emissions than a Chevy Impala making the same trip.

And Nova Scotia’s grid is becoming increasingly powered by renewable electricity. As of February 2019, renewables made up 36% of our electricity mix, and this is projected to increase in coming years. In fact, your EV’s highest-emitting day is the first day you own it.

Click here for more information on the life cycle analysis of EVs.

What happens to an electric vehicle’s battery at the end of its life?

Even when your EV’s battery is no longer able to power your car, it can be reused in other less demanding applications such as storing electricity from solar panels and wind farms and powering refrigeration units. And once they’re fully spent, the raw materials that went into the battery can be recovered.

Dalhousie University has a Renewable Energy Storage Laboratory that is working on repurposing EV batteries for grid energy storage. Click here to find out more.

Maintenance

What kind of maintenance does my electric vehicle require?

Without an internal combustion engine and its moving parts, EVs require much less maintenance than gas-powered cars. So, forget about oil changes, transmission fluid top-ups, replacing spark plugs, mufflers…

EVs do need some TLC. Wiper blades and washer fluid need to be changed out and topped up regularly. The tires should be rotated, and cabin air filters replaced according to the manufacturers’ guidelines. The brakes need to be kept up, but an EV’s regenerative brakes don’t wear down like conventional brakes do.

The big cost for an EV comes when its battery needs replacement, but there is warranty coverage that comes standard with all EVs available in Canada.

What is the warranty on my electric vehicle?

Warranties will vary depending on each manufacturer, but most offer a bumper to bumper warranty of 3 years / 60,000 km. Most manufacturers of vehicles available in Canada offer an 8 year / 160,000 km warranty for the battery. For most brands this covers a minimum 70% retention of battery capacity over the warranty period. (As with all batteries, the amount of energy stored on full charge will diminish with use. Your warranty protects you from excessive loss of battery capacity.)

Aren’t electric vehicle batteries expensive?

Right now, the replacement cost for a battery ranges from around $7,500 for the Nissan Leaf to around $14,000 for the Chevy Bolt and about $25,000 for the Tesla Model X. That is a lot of money. But there are two important caveats to understand:

  1. EV batteries aren’t like your cell phone battery; they last. With recent advances in battery cell chemistry and thermal management, batteries in new EV models lose only about 1-2% in range per year. This means that most EV owners will have finished their leases, re-sold or traded in their vehicles well before range loss becomes an issue. And the standard 8 year / 160,000 km warranty on an EV battery means that in the rare cases where batteries lose excessive range or fail outright, you’re fully covered.
  2. The price of batteries is going down drastically. For example, the price of a battery pack comparable to the Tesla’s Model 3’s has dropped more than 70% in the 6 years between 2010 and 2016. This trend is expected to continue through to 2030. But given the longevity of EV batteries, this decrease in price will likely matter more to consumers because it will help reduce EV sticker prices at the time of purchase, rather than because you will ever need to replace a battery in your vehicle.

In addition, some EV manufacturers are starting to offer re-furbished battery packs at reduced cost.

How often do I need to replace the battery in my electric vehicle?

EV batteries in Canada come with a standard 8 year / 160,000 km warranty. Because EVs are still relatively new, there’s not yet a reliable prediction for battery life. However, recent advances in battery cell chemistry and thermal management mean that batteries in new EV models lose only about 1-2% in range per year. This means that most EV owners will have finished their leases, re-sold or traded in their vehicles well before range loss becomes an issue. Anecdotally, many Tesla owners have reported less than 10% total range degradation over 250,000kms. Unlike aging components in gas-powered cars, there’s no harm to the EV that comes with driving with an older battery. The biggest downside is loss of range. It’s been estimated that an EV’s battery may have lost as much as 20% of its range by 160,000 km.

Did you know Dalhousie University is home to one of the world leading expert on Lithium-Ion batteries? Professor Jeff Dahn’s battery research lab holds an exclusive research partnership with Tesla Motors. They are collaborating on the development of batteries that are cheaper, more powerful and longer lasting.

Can I take my electric vehicle to the same mechanic who fixes my gas-powered car?

For all the wear and tear components like suspension, brakes, windshield wipers, and tires EVs are no different than a gasoline vehicle and your mechanic could service your EV.

On the other hand, the EV’s battery and propulsion system works on different principles from an internal combustion engine, and the mechanic who serviced your gas-powered car may not have been trained how to diagnose and fix EV issues. In addition, servicing an EV requires specialized equipment that is not yet commonly found outside dealerships that sell EVs.

Will my electric vehicle take the same kind of tires, wiper blades, etc. as my gas-powered car?

Yes; most EVs on the market use the same range of wiper blade and tire sizes as gas-powered cars. Many EVs come equipped with low rolling resistance tires which help maximize the vehicle’s potential distance per charge. These tires are not required but do help increase the range by a few percent.

Other

What happens when there’s a power outage?

Occasional short power outages shouldn’t be any more inconvenient for your EV than it is for your cellphone. In the case of longer power outages, you may need to rely on a public charging station if you need to recharge your battery. When the forecast calls for weather events that may create outages, it’s a good idea to charge up your EV in advance.

Will vehicle insurance cost me any more for an electric vehicle?

Some insurance companies offer a green vehicle discount while others don’t distinguish between the type of vehicle. Insurance companies take several factors into account when deciding on premiums, including your driving history, the level of coverage you’ve selected, and the type of car you are driving. Because EVs are more expensive than comparable gas-powered cars, this can result in an increase in premium.

When looking to insure your EV, we recommend shopping around or using the services of an insurance broker to get the best rates.

Does it cost any more to get my electric vehicle and registered?

No. The costs for vehicle permits for passenger vehicles in Nova Scotia are determined according to the weight of the vehicle. A permit for both an EV and a gas-powered car in the same weight category would cost the same.

Links

Plugshare

Interactive charging station locator 

Electric Vehicle Association of Atlantic Canada

Facebook updates, events & news about EVs in Atlantic Canada

PlugnDrive

Ontario’s go to information hub for anything EV

NS Power Electric Vehicle Guide

EV resource in Nova Scotia

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EVAssist is brought to you by Natural Resources Canada, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines, Clean Foundation and with the support of Nova Scotia Power

 

EVAssist is brought to you by Natural Resources Canada, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy and Mines, Clean Foundation and with the support of Nova Scotia Power

Still have questions regarding EVs?

Contact us at transportation@clean.ns.ca

 

Still have questions regarding EVs?

Contact us at transportation@clean.ns.ca

 

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