What is an electric vehicle?
Electric vehicles (EVs) are cars or trucks that are powered by electricity and not gas. Instead of filling up a tank, they can be recharged by being plugged into an external source of electricity, such as a wall socket.
What is the difference between an electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle?
EVs that are 100 per cent powered by electricity are called Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). 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 are the benefits of owning an electric vehicle?
There are many benefits to owning an EV.
EVs are cheaper to drive: powering your car with electricity can save as much as three times more than a gas-powered car.
EVs are cheaper to maintain: EVs have thousands fewer moving parts than conventional cars. Oil filters? Spark plugs? Alternators? Clutches? Those parts don’t exist in an EV, which means less of your time and money spent on maintenance.
EVs are convenient: You plug them in at night and wake up to a full battery each day. No more having to find a gas station on your way to work!
EVs are performance driven: More agile than convential gas vehicles, EVs are better suited to handle tricky driving conditions. Also, when you brake in an EV, the electric motor helps you slow down and recharges the battery by doing so. 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 – another saving!
EVs are quiet: without a noisy internal combustion engine EVs are whisper-quiet and help cut down on noise pollution.
Last on our list, 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.
Charging and Batteries
How do I charge my EV?
You can recharge your EV by plugging it into any regular wall outlet known as Level 1 charging.
For those who want a faster charge, you can install a Level 2 charging station. Level 2 chargers require the same type of electrical outlet as your kitchen stove or dryer. This is the most common type of public charger.
Lastly, Level 3 chargers are high-powered stations called Direct Current Fast Chargers or DCFC. These are publicly available and can charge BEVs at rapid speeds.
What about charging an e-bike?
While e-bikes are convenient in that they can be charged with a regular wall outlet, they don’t yet have the same charging safety standards as electric vehicles. There is also significant variance in build quality between models. Unlike EVs, itis possible to overcharge an e-bike battery, potentially leading to a fire hazard.
For safety, it’s recommended not to:
– store the battery in extreme temperatures;
– charge the battery near water or fire hazards;
– charge the battery overnight or longer than 8 hours; and
– to use a timed outlet to avoid overcharging.
Learn more at https://epiccycles.ca/charge-e-bike/
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.
Does my electric vehicle come with a charger?
Most EVs come standard with a Level 1 charger that can be plugged into a regular wall outlet. You could also purchase a Level 2 charger separately or use a publicly available charging station.
How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?
Charging time varies according to several factors—the model of your EV, how much charge it has remaining when you plug it in, the ambient temperature and the level of charging station you are using (Level 1, 2 or 3).
The rate of recharge for a Level 1 charger is about 7-9 kilometres per hour. Level 2 stations charge at a rate of roughly 30-40 kilometres per hour. Level 3 or “fast charging” stations can charge your EV anywhere between 250 kms to 1000 kms per hour!
Please note, PHEVs have greatly varying recharge times on Level 1 and Level 2 charges and most cannot use Level 3.
Can I over-charge an electric vehicle by accident?
No. All EVs have built-in safeguards that prevent overcharging.
Can all charging stations charge all types of electric vehicles?
Currently, Tesla chargers do not work with any other make of EVs. Tesla EVs require an adapter to use either Level 2 or Level 3 charging stations.
Please note, most PHEVs do not have the ability to use Level 3 charging stations—check with your dealer before purchasing.
How do I find public charging stations?
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. Plugshare allows you to see all the public charging available for all EV models.
How do I pay for charging?
Many public Level 2 chargers are completely free to use!
When fees are charged, they are often displayed by price per hour and billed by the minute. Level 2 chargers will typically cost $1-$5 per hour, while a Level 3 fast charger could cost $10 – $25 per hour. These transactions sometimes require apps and/or memberships, or a credit/debit card.
How much do home charging stations cost?
You should consult a licensed electrician to find out if you need to do any preliminary work to accommodate the installation of a home charger.
A typical Level 2 station will cost between $500 and $1,500. The parts and labour to complete the installation will often cost an additional $500 to $1,500, assuming you don’t have to upgrade your electrical service or panel.
How do I charge my electric vehicle if I live in a multi-unit condo or apartment building?
Residents of multi-units that don’t have a charger available on site may have to use public Level 2 or Level 3 charging stations.
If you are looking to speak to your building manager or condo board about installing a charger in your building, we recommend reading the following helpful and informative guidebook produced by https://murbly.com/en/learn/.
What is the best time of day 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 run out of charge while on the road?
If you do run out of charge while driving, 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.
Can an electric vehicle power appliances or even a home/business?
Bi-directional charging is an emerging electric vehicle feature. An EV equipped with this technology is hardwired to be able to supply power back into devices, appliances or the power grid, depending on EV model and home electrical set-up.
See our model list for currently available models that are capable of bi-directional charging.
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. Numerous studies agree that even if the electricity that powered it is 100 per cent coal-fired, a BEV will still produce fewer emissions than an equivalent gasoline vehicle. 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?
After your EV’s battery predicted lifespan of 500,000 – 600,000 kms is over, it can be reused in other less-demanding applications such as storing electricity from solar panels and wind farms or as back-ups at home or in the grid. When the batteries no longer work, 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.
Does the mining for battery materials outweigh the benefits of driving EVs compared to gas?
The lifecycle benefits of driving an EV more than pay back the damage done from battery mineral extraction, especially when compared to oil extraction. Batteries powering EVs continue to improve, and many have either reduced or entirely cut out the need for unethically sourced materials. The water used to harvest enough lithium for an EV battery is equivalent to the water used to grow 11 avocadoes.
What kind of maintenance does my electric vehicle require?
EVs generally have higher maintenance savings compared to their gasoline counterparts, especially BEVs. This is largely due to a simpler drivetrain; a typical BEV only has 40 moving parts, while a gasoline vehicle would have over 2000.
What is the warranty on my electric vehicle?
Warranties will vary depending on each manufacturer, but most offer a bumper-to-bumper warranty of three years / 60,000 kms. In Canada, the minimum warranty of electric vehicle motors and batteries is eight years / 160,000 kms.
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 3 important caveats to understand:
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.
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.
Lastly, some EV manufacturers are starting to offer re-furbished battery packs at reduced costs.
How often do I need to replace the battery in my electric vehicle?
Unlike phone or tablet batteries, EV batteries use advanced technology and temperature management to greatly extend their lifespan. EV batteries generally lose only about one-to-two per cent of their range per year. Current expectations mean that most EV bodies will rust away before the battery degrades significantly.
Where do electric vehicles go for maintenance?
For all the wear-and-tear components like suspension, brakes, windshield wipers and tires, EVs are no different than a gasoline vehicle and your usual mechanic could service your EV.
Any dealership that is certified to sell new EVs is required to train mechanical staff and offer full EV maintenance service. A full list of certified dealerships can be found here.
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 many factors into account when deciding on premiums.
When looking to purchase insurance for 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 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.
Are EVs prone to catching on fire?
BEVs are less prone to fires than gasoline vehicles, though when they catch on fire, they can be difficult to extinguish.
How far can an electric vehicle go on a single charge?
A common range for BEVs on a single charge is between 300 to 500 kms. Much like gas vehicles, added weight, travelling at highway speeds, very low temperatures and aggressive driving can lower these ranges.
How do electric vehicles hold up to winter driving conditions like snow and slush?
By placing the main battery in the lowest point in the vehicle, often under the floor, will result in a road-hugging feel and lower centre of gravity. This, coupled with the electric motor’s precise and responsive nature, means the vehicle handles exceptionally well.
Can an electric vehicle still operate in colder temperatures?
Bitter, cold Canadian winters are known to be hard on regular car batteries. EV batteries can maintain their own temperature, so they don’t have the same issues that some gas-powered vehicles do with failing to start in frigid temperatures.
However, as the ambient temperature drops below 0°C, heat production for you and your battery will cost some range. Very cold temperatures, -20°C or colder, can reduce an EV’s range by as much as 40 per cent. This is because the battery is not only powering the car, but also heating the car’s interior and battery.
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?
What are regenerative brakes?
Having regenerative brakes means that an EV can slow down, or come to a full and complete stop, without having to use its brake pads and recharge the battery.
When the driver takes their foot off the accelerator, the vehicle’s electric motor converts the momentum of the vehicle into battery charge. Not only does this reduce wear and tear on your brake pads, but it also extends how far you can drive on a single charge, especially in urban driving.
Glossary of common acronyms
BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle: An electric vehicle that runs completely off battery power and does not have an internal combustion engine. Often referred to as an “EV”.
ER-EV – Extended Range Electric Vehicle: A type of hybrid vehicle with a gasoline engine and a larger-than-usual electric motor and battery, often allowing for longer distances of all-electric driving. The Toyota RAV4 Prime, Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Clarity are all examples of an ER-EV.
ER-EVs qualify for a $3,000 rebate – the highest provincial incentive in Nova Scotia.
EVSE – Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment: Referred to often as a “charger”, an EVSE is a control system that uses two-way communication to charge a car safely and effectively. Learn more at https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1050948_what-is-evse-and-why-does-your-electric-car-charger-need-it
kW – Kilowatt: A measure of power, or 1,000 watts. For example, a 10,000 watt dryer could also be called at 10 kW dryer. In an electric car, kW is used to measure the power of the electric motor to drive the wheels. You can compare kW directly to horsepower in a gasoline vehicle; simply take the kW of an electric motor and multiply it by 1.34. A Leaf Plus with a 160-kW motor has 214 horsepower.
kWh – Kilowatt hour: A measure of energy. In an EV, a kWh is not the number of the kilowatts being used in an hour, but rather how many hours it can deliver its power, based on standard tests.
From the link below: A Tesla Model S with a 100-kWh battery can continuously deliver 100 kW for one hour, and the car uses 1kWh of energy to go about 6.4 kilometers. Multiply 100 kWh by 6.4, and you get the car’s estimated range of about 640 kilometers on a charge. Learn more at https://driving.ca/nissan/leaf/column/how-it-works/how-it-works-making-sense-of-ev-specifications
SOC – State of Charge: The current voltage of the battery relative to its maximum voltage when charged. For example, an electric vehicle that is charged to 80 per cent has a state of charge of 80per cent. SOC is good for providing a cursory look at how much charge you have left and is visible in plain sight inside the vehicle.
SOH – State of Health: The capacity of the batteries to hold charge as they age. For example, an electric vehicle with a SOH of 96 per cent has experienced an overall loss of four per cent from its original battery capacity. Due to several factors, batteries degrade over time, causing a loss in range for electric vehicles. SOH provides the best idea of how much energy a battery can store, relative to when it was brand new. For people looking at purchasing a used electric vehicle, State of Health is critical information.
To find the SOH, a reader device like an OBDII may be necessary.
Interactive charging station locator
Canadian Automobile Association’s page on electric vehicles
Electric Vehicle Association of Atlantic Canada
Facebook updates, events & news about EVs in Atlantic Canada
Ontario’s go to information hub for anything EV
NS Power Electric Vehicle Guide
EV resource in Nova Scotia
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