Tag Archives: Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicles Part Two

Today’s post is a follow up to yesterday’s post about my interest in purchasing an electric vehicle such as a Nissan Leaf.

First, it is important to make a distinction between some of the electric vehicles that are on the market. Possibly the most talked about EV is the Tesla. But let’s be realistic – the Tesla is not a car that is priced in a range that will see it in that many driveways.

And the hype about Tesla bringing out a car for the masses? You can count on the new Tesla having a price of $50,000 or more in Canada. I am not sure that the masses will embrace a $50,000 electric vehicle.

Then there is the Chevy Volt – not what I would call a true EV. Having a gas powered engine is not in keeping with the spirit of the EV movement.

Chevy Bolt
Chevy Bolt

The Chevy Bolt – this one sounds intriguing. A potential range of 383 km on a full charge and 0 to 96 kmh in less than 7 seconds. Interesting.

Which brings me to another point; why do we need (or want?) cars that can do 0-60 in less than 3 seconds? Where does the desire for such performance come from? Do we really need a high performance race car to get from home to work? And back?

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf and the Kia Soul are the two other electric vehicles that are priced in the range that appeals to a fairly large potential market. As such, as I described in yesterday’s blog post, I took a Nissan Leaf for a test drive.

I drove from North Burnaby to Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. I traveled on city streets until I got on the freeway at Sprott Ave. I had the heater on in the car, the defrost on as required, and the heated seats in use.

When I started the car the computer told me that I had 152 kilometres of range in the batteries.

Nissan Leaf Interior
Nissan Leaf Interior

I drove on the freeway at freeway speed and I was able to very easily keep up to the flow of traffic. When I needed to pull out and pass another vehicle, the Leaf accelerated quickly and easily. Honestly, there was no discernible difference between driving the Leaf and driving my usual car, a Toyoto Echo. If anything, the Leaf was more powerful

By the time I got to Grouse Mountain the on-screen display told me I now had 112 kilometres of range left “in the tank”. So that means I used 40 kilometres of juice to travel 26 kilometres.

In fairness, I was traveling at highway speed, especially up the steep hill known as “the Cut” in North Van and then up the hill from the highway to Grouse Mountain. It was quite steep terrain and I was hard on the accelerator to see how the Leaf would perform.

There was an available charging station at Grouse but the fact that there was a Tesla in the other spot and a massive pile of snow in front of the other spot making it so that the back of the Leaf would have been sticking out and impeding foot traffic … I chose not to park in the EV charging station plug in spot to charge.

I then went up Grouse Mountain and skied for three hours – three glorious hours of night skiing with minimal line-ups.

Upon our return to the car the on-screen display still said 112 kilometres of range was left. As we left, the range dropped. As you would expect.

The Cut
The Cut

At the top of the Cut I was told to take my foot off the accelerator and “coast” down the hill. At the top of the Cut I had 91 kilometres of range left. I kept up with the flow of traffic even with my foot off the accelerator because there was quite a bit of traffic on the Cut.

I did as I was told and at the bottom of the Cut the on-screen display said that I now had 101 kilometres of range! Coasting down that long hill added 10 kilometres to the range of the vehicle.

When I returned the Leaf to its parking spot in North Burnaby the on-screen display told me that the car still had 80+ kilometres of range left in the batteries.

To be honest, I forgot to write down the final number when I parked it but I do recall as I was driving up the street to the parking spot that it had more than 80 in range left.

So that means to travel 55 kilometres on a combination of city streets and freeway driving with heater and defroster on it took 70 kilometres of charge.

The real icing on the cake for the owners of electric vehicles at this time is the fact that by and large, the charging stations for electric vehicles are still free. So if you are able to plan ahead (there’s an app for that!), you don’t even have to charge your electric vehicles at home!

I have not yet driven the new Chevy Bolt nor the Kia Soul EV. The bottomline – there is an EV in my future. Which one…I am still undecided.

 

Electric Vehicles – Nissan Leaf

I am seriously considering the purchase of an electric vehicle and, as soon as I said those words to my friends they began to send me articles explaining how impractical and totally inadequate electric vehicles are.

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf

As a first step towards purchasing electric vehicles, this weekend I took one out for a test drive. Apparently the owner of the EV I took for a test drive had seen the video of my last test drive and did not want to go through a similar experience as the last sales guy so I was not allowed to video my latest test drive.

Other than the fact that the range on the Nissan Leaf is now approximately 150 kilometres (up from 100 kilometres four years ago), the fundamentals of the Nissan Leaf  have not changed all that much.

Let’s consider a couple of the anti-EV points:

First – There would not be enough charging stations if everyone bought and drove an EV. You may have to wait at a charging station before being able to charge your car.

True. However, that is the same as saying there would not be enough gas stations or a distribution network if everyone bought cars that burn diesel. Not everyone is going to buy electric vehicles. Or a diesel.

And further, the vast majority of people can plug their car in at home overnight and then have a full charge in their batteries for the morning.

Second – If you do run the batteries out of charge, your car has to be towed to the next place it can be charged.

True. However, if you have any ability to plan your day, you will not run out of charge. Yep, you have to plan ahead. Same as people who drive a diesel powered vehicle. A little planning helps you go a long way.

Anyway, the fact is that EVs are NOT for everyone. If you need a truck to haul your tools and work supplies around with you, probably no EV in your future.

If you live in Chilliwack and drive to UBC everyday, probably no EV in your future.

On the other hand, if you live in Surrey and drive to Burnaby or Vancouver, you would be well served by trading in your gas powered car and getting and electric vehicle. Not only would you no longer have to pay for gasoline and oil changes, you get to drive in the HOV lane and your tolls are lower!!

The fact is, electric vehicles (EVs) are actually very practical for many more commuters than most people realize.

The All-Electric Zero Motorcycle Test Ride

A good buddy and I, both of us avid motorcyclists, popped into the 2nd Gear Motorcycle shop to test ride the all-electric Zero Motorcycle. Kent Aubichon, Zero Motorcycles Canadian sales manager let us take the bike out for a little ride around the Coquitlam neighbourhood.

Here is a little video I shot of my impressions and observations about the Zero Motorcycle.

Final parting shots, the bike as equipped sells for approximately $11,000. It has a top speed of something like 140 km/h and has a city riding range of around 180 km.

As I said in the video, I need more acceleration power to get me into the saddle of one of these machines.

The New Nissan Leaf Hits BC; Day 3 NaBloPoMo

A good buddy of mine received his new Nissan Leaf, the first all-electric production vehicle a couple of days ago. I asked him to write a quick blurb about what his first day of owning an electric vehicle was like. Here is what he had to say…

Today we picked up our new Nissan LEAF SL at Downtown Nissan.  It is the fourth all-electric vehicle sold in BC. It took us about one hour to go through all the features (this is a very tech-laden vehicle) with the sales manager…this was their first retail LEAF delivery for them.

Left the dealer and noticed that my vehicle was only 50% charged –  not a good start. Phoned the Fairmont Waterfront to see if I could plug-in while visiting downtown for 1.5 hours – they refused unless I was staying there or having lunch there! I parked at EASY PARK and plugged in without hassle. 

I was stopped on Seymour Street when a bus driver opened his door and asked me if I liked my electric vehicle – a passenger asked how much it was. Biggest difference on day one – The total quietness when driving.

Range anxiety is frequently a phrase that oil-lobbyists use, but with 160km/charge it is a perfect run-around-town-car that combined with limited mechanical tune ups will ensure lower running costs.