The infrastructure to power your green dreams

Increasingly Canadians are actively considering the environmental impact when making their vehicle purchase choices. For the past two editions, we have focused on the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) Fuel Consumption Reports and hopefully explained why these taxpayer-funded ratings are a great tool to consider when completing your research.  One thing that is obvious from these ratings is how much money can be saved on fuel when choosing more efficient vehicles – with fully electric vehicles of course costing around $2 per 100km. This is not only great for your pocketbook, but the environment as well. In order to do this, the Federal Government, along with many provincial governments, are investing in infrastructure to help encourage wide-spread adoption of electric cars. 

While infrastructure doesn’t have exciting 0-60 figures or come in sleek body styles, these investments are crucial in helping green vehicles become a legitimate choice for all Canadians. One barrier to initial EV adoption was the lack of charging station infrastructure and the charge time which caused “range anxiety” for Canadians considering fully electric cars. Even when charging stations were installed in remote areas, the length of time for a full charge made it impractical to plan a long car trip with an electric vehicle. To help remedy the problem, federal and provincial governments have worked to create a network of faster charging L2 and L3 charging stations across the country.

In addition to the new high-powered charging stations, NRCan has also published an interactive map that allows electronic vehicle owners to plan their route and view their charging options in one place. This map, which is continually updated, helps give electric vehicle drivers peace of mind as they plan their routes.

EV 2019 ignition0000

New EV owners should be aware of the three different types of charging options available to them. L1 chargers are in many ways considered a backup/emergency plan. L1 charging allows a car to plug into a standard wall socket (thanks to an adaptor), which will provide a full charge over an 8-15-hour period. While this is convenient for days when owners aren’t hard pressed for time, it does require planning to ensure a full charge is possible. 

A faster option is L2 chargers, which use 220v or 240v plugs, and provide a full charge in about 3 hours. These chargers, which can be installed in homes, at workplaces, and other public places, can help give EV drivers confidence that they will be able to enjoy the full range of their EV. There is no question that it is critical to have access to charging supply and infrastructure if the percentage of EVs on the road is going to grow. To that end, provincial and federal governments are working together to continually expand the number of L2 charging stations.

Helping to further reduce range anxiety is the installation of L3 chargers. L3 chargers are designed to provide an 80% charge in as little as 20 minutes. Most L3 charging stations are found close to major highways, as they are generally intended to be used when on long road trips as opposed to daily use.

The federal government is investing $182.5 million in green infrastructure and clean drive technologies and is partnering with the private sector to support the demonstration and deployment of new charging stations across the country. This investment is being mirrored in provinces across the country (for the most up-to-date information on provincial incentives check out the provincial websites listed beside the map below).

The Atlantic region has seen a recent expansion of charging networks. Despite a limited number of EVs on the road in New Brunswick, the provincial government has taken an active leadership role in creating charging stations across the province.  A recently completed network on L2 charging stations has made EVs a realistic option for many. A further investment of $450,000 by the Federal government in New Brunswick’s eCharge network was announced in January. This investment will nearly double the number of charging stations in New Brunswick.

Other Atlantic provinces are similarly expanding their network of charging stations. Nova Scotia announced last year that it would install another dozen L3 charging stations, making it possible to travel from Sydney to Yarmouth without worrying about the availability of charging. While the Atlantic provinces have much lower numbers of EVs on the roads then Ontario, Quebec, and BC, it is hoped that the expansions of charging networks will encourage drivers to seriously consider EVs when they make their car purchases.

In Quebec, EVs are much more common. Thanks to sales rebates and relatively inexpensive electricity, many more Quebecers are choosing EVs. Quebec is currently the only province that has legislation that requires automakers to sell a minimum number of electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles for the 2018 model year. To further expand the range of charging options, the province offers rebates for the installation of L2 charging stations in homes and businesses. Homeowners can receive up to a $600 rebate to help defray the cost of new chargers.

Level 2 Charger

Ontario is another province leading the way in EV adoption. Thanks to generous incentives for EVs and rebates for the installation of L2 chargers, Ontario already has a relatively high number of EVs on the road. Ontario also recently announced a Workplace Electric Vehicle Charging Incentive Program, that provides a rebate for up to 80% of the cost of installing an L2 charger at a workplace (to a maximum of $7,500 per charging space).

In the Prairies, EV adoption continues to be rare. Mainly due to worries over how cold weather effects batteries and the larger commute distances, many drivers are reluctant to move away from traditional cars. However, as the charging infrastructure expands, it is likely more drivers will make the switch.  In Alberta, there was an 80% increase in the number of EV purchases in 2017, giving it the fourth largest number of EVs in Canada. Alberta recently added several L3 charging stations at Canadian Tire refuelling stations near highway exits, making it easier to commute within the province.

Like Ontario and Quebec, BC offers a wide range of incentives to encourage the installation of additional charging stations. Residents who are interested in retrofitting a L2 charging station to their home, can apply for a rebate of 75% or up to $750 per station. BC also offers a compelling incentive for business’ looking to add a charging station for their employees.  Applicants are eligible to receive 50% of project costs (up to $4,000 for a L2 station or $2,000 for a L1 station), making it much easier to install charging stations at their workplaces.

Finally, drivers should be aware of one further potential complication for charging.  As L2 and L3 chargers become more prevalent across the country, it is important to stay aware of the charger’s requirements. Many of the new chargers require a membership or app that needs to be installed in advance of charging. Also, not all L3 chargers use the same standards. Websites such as chargehub.com allow drivers to get a more complete understanding of which chargers are compatible with their vehicles and how to access them. With the increasing number of chargers being installed across the country, the number of memberships and apps will likely increase in kind. To that end, EV drivers will need to stay on top of their charging options.

One thing is certain amid all this change – EVs are quickly becoming a mainstream choice across Canada. Thanks to all the investment and legislation, governments across Canada are all helping Canadians transition to EV’s by eliminating barriers to adoption across the country.

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