The Hamilton Spectator
Ready to leap into an electric vehicle?
Electric vehicles are just one tool to address runaway climate change, but Canada is far behind where it needs to be on the road to a greener future.
Statistics Canada reported in 2021 that 94.9 per cent of all registered light-duty vehicles were still powered by internal combustion engines, and the gross sale of gasoline was 40.2 billion litres.
This works out to 92.46 billion kilograms of greenhouse gases annually from Canadian cars based on the Natural Resources Canada calculation that burning one litre of gasoline produces 2.3 kg of carbon dioxide. Pollution from traffic on Highway 401 alone costs our health-care system $416 million a year, plus $55 million for climate change, according to a 2021 study.
The International Panel on Climate Change states with high confidence that “battery electric vehicles have lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than internal combustion engine vehicles when battery electric vehicles are charged with low-carbon electricity.”
Europe has seen the biggest uptake in electric vehicles because of “tightening carbon dioxide emissions standards that occurred in 2020 and 2021 (and) the expansion of purchase subsidies and tax benefits in major markets,” reports the International Energy Agency.
It’s why we need more, not less, government intervention and incentives if we’re ever going to have a chance of stopping our climate breakdown.
Transitions are rarely easy, and going full electric has its share of pros and cons, generally falling into three categories.
The federal Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles is the only rebate program available in Ontario. Eligible vehicles are listed on the website.
The upfront cost of electric vehicles is still more than internal combustion vehicles, but they are cheaper to maintain. Car and Driver has done a reasonable comparison.
Although the price of lithium used for the batteries has tripled in a year, an MIT review reports, “Recycling facilities can now recover nearly all of the cobalt and nickel and over 80 per cent of the lithium from used batteries and manufacturing scrap left over from battery production — and recyclers plan to resell those metals for a price nearly competitive with that of mined materials. Aluminum, copper and graphite are often recovered as well.”
Arguably the biggest challenge is that demand is far outpacing supply, with one and a half to two years for delivery for many new electric vehicles. Supply chain issues, dealerships not equipped to service electric vehicles, a global chip/ semiconductor shortage, and shortages of other materials and metals are all cited as reasons.
Our charging infrastructure is still in its infancy. Multi-unit buildings rarely have chargers. If you’re looking to power up away from home, reports of broken chargers, not enough locations or slow charging are not uncommon, with dedicated Tesla chargers being the exception.
Chargehub.com seems to be the go-to site to locate charging stations, but then you also need different apps and/or cards for the different companies. Occasionally, a free charging outlet can be found.
Older electric vehicles take significantly longer to charge. With charging by the minute, and prices varying significantly between locations, this can add up.
The distance per charge you can drive — the range — differs between models. Cold weather reduces the range as batteries work less efficiently and are used to heat your interior, unlike gas vehicles that use the waste heat from the engine.
The transition is picking up speed, and Ontario’s power grid is mostly clean and renewable. I know I’m ready to trade in my 2018 hybrid plug-in and make the leap to a fully electric vehicle. Are you?