Are elec­tric cars al­ready less ex­pen­sive?

Con­sul­tant com­pares to gas, diesel...

Montreal Times - - News - By John Sy­mon

Even be­fore re­cent gas price in­creases, it was al­ready economical to own an elec­tric car in Que­bec says Daniel Bre­ton, a for­mer En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial in charge of elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of trans­porta­tion. Bre­ton is also an au­thor of books on the sub­ject, a mag­a­zine con­trib­u­tor and con­sul­tant.

Bre­ton de­cries the “myths” sur­round­ing elec­tric cars: the no­tion that elec­tric cars are very ex­pen­sive to buy, com­pli­cated to charge, not re­li­able or un­suit­able for long trips.

“Th­ese no­tions are ab­so­lutely false. It can al­ready be less ex­pen­sive to buy and op­er­ate an elec­tric car,” says Bre­ton. He re­cently com­pared the price of new elec­tric cars to sim­i­lar con­ven­tional cars.

While the pub­lic is prob­a­bly fa­mil­iar with the top-end Tes­las, re­tail­ing at $132,000. Bre­ton makes the point that lux­ury elec­tric cars should be com­pared to lux­ury con­ven­tional cars such as BMW or Porsche. Mean­while, prices for econ­omy-model elec­tric cars in Canada start new at about $30,000.

“I went to deal­ers, com­par­ing a pop­u­lar car, the Honda Civic (au­to­matic) over a five-year less and added in es­ti­mated fuel costs based on an average of 20,000km per year at $1.15 per litre of gaso­line. I com­pared this to the cost of a Ford Fo­cus (elec­tric), also over a fiveyear lease. After adding in en­ergy (gaso­line or elec­tric­ity) costs for driv­ing the same 20,000km per year, the Ford Fo­cus ends up be­ing $60 less ex­pen­sive per month.”

“If I fac­tor in main­te­nance and in­sur­ance costs, the Ford Fo­cus elec­tric can be $6,000 less ex­pen­sive over five years,” he adds, not­ing main­te­nance costs tend to be much lower for elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Against crit­i­cisms that elec­tric cars are un­suit­able for long trips, Bre­ton men­tions that he will soon do a 3,000km road trip with his Chevy Bolt, es­ti­mat­ing elec­tric­ity costs at about $50. “If I did the same trip in a con­ven­tional car, the gaso­line cost would be about $400. ”

Bre­ton also re­cently lent his Bolt to a friend. “I had to show my friend how fast-charg­ing works, but it is re­ally not that com­pli­cated. The friend then drove 600km over three days in the Bolt.”

Bre­ton says two per­cent of new ve­hi­cle sales in Que­bec are now for elec­tric cars; he ex­pects that to jump to 10% by 2025. He also says that 50% of elec­tric car sales across Canada are in Que­bec, at­tribut­ing much of this suc­cess to a vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion, the As­so­ci­a­tion des véhicules élec­triques du Québec (AVEQ).

Apart from the eco­nomic ad­van­tages, Bre­ton also speaks of en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits and of the huge eco­nomic ben­e­fit if Que­bec could stop im­port­ing up to $1 bil­lion worth of gaso­line, diesel, and nat­u­ral gas ev­ery month.

De­spite th­ese ad­van­tages, Bre­ton be­moans how dif­fi­cult it can be to buy an elec­tric car in this prov­ince due to in­ven­tory short­ages. “If you want to buy now, the ve­hi­cle might not be de­liv­ered for many months. Be­cause sales­men are paid by com­mis­sion, they will prob­a­bly try to con­vince buy­ers to take a con­ven­tional car in the mean­time.”

Ac­cord­ing to Plug 'n Drive Canada, there are cur­rently 10 mod­els of BEVs (Bat­tery Elec­tricVe­hi­cle)--also known as "fully elec­tric cars"-- avail­able for sale in this coun­try. Th­ese range from the Mit­subishi i-MiEV with a Man­u­fac­tur­ers Sug­gested Re­tail Price (MRSP) of $27,998 and the Ford Fo­cus elec­tric with a MRSP of $31,998 to the Tesla Model X, listed at $132,000. Other mod­els in­clude the BMW i3, Chevro­let Bolt, Hyundai IONIQ Elec­tric, Kia Soul EV, Nis­san Leaf, Tesla Model S, and Volk­swa­gen e-Golf.

Not in­cluded in this list are mod­els of PHEVs (Plug-in Hy­brid Elec­tric Ve­hi­cles), which com­bine an elec­tric mo­tor with a gas tank-gas en­gine/gen­er­a­tor

Elec­tric vs. Gas

Daniel Bre­ton

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