ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Charging Practices and Costs

As Canada goes all-in on electric vehicles in its fight against climate change, it looks like 2024 could be a big year for the industry:

  • Government data show 132,783 new vehicles out of 1,286,951 registered in Canada in the first nine months of 2023 were either battery electric or plug-in hybrids; and
  • The industry appears primed for growth. The federal government announced this week that it would phase out sales of gas vehicles by 2035. Ottawa has also mandated that Electric Vehicles (EVs) must make up 20 per cent of auto sales by 2026.

There’s no doubt that air quality benefits of switching to electric vehicles will be particularly important for the 40 percent of Canadians who live near busy roads and highways and are exposed to high levels of pollution.

The conventional wisdom has it that EVs not only keep the air clean, they also are cheaper to run and maintain.

General trends for charging EVs appeared to be:

  • In the states: ChargeLab, released the results of its new report.  Accordingly 500 EV drivers in the United States, revealing a key finding:  86.0 percent of EV drivers now have access to a home charger, 59.6 percent still use public chargers weekly.
  • In Canada: While about 80 percent of current EV owners choose to charge their vehicles at home, the Government of Canada is investing $1.2 billion to build 84,500 chargers across the country by 2029, which adds on to efforts by businesses and provincial governments to further expand the charging infrastructure across the country.

The good news is that more than $34 billion in new investments have been made automotive and battery manufacturers since 2020, and are part of the shift to EV production and establishing a battery supply chain in Canada—which will create and maintain hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs for Canadians in a modern automotive supply chain.

Here are Electric Vehicle Adoption Statistics for Canadians:

  • Electric vehicle registrations in Canada have increased from under 20,000 in 2017 to over 86,000 in 2021;
  • In the first quarter of 2022, 7.7 percent of all vehicles registered in Canada were EVs;
  • Over 90 percent of new EVs in Canada were registered in Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario;
  • Between 2017 and 2021, registrations for non-electric vehicles in Canada fell by 23 percent;
  • 71 percent of Canadians would consider an EV when next purchasing a new vehicle;
  • 79 percent of Canadians would only consider buying an EV with a minimum range of 400 kilometres on a single charge; and
  • Nine in ten Canadians would want to do more research before buying an electric vehicle.

Significant advancements in battery technology have resulted in improved cold-weather performance and increased the range of many current available models over 400 kilometers, representing a substantial improvement from earlier models in Canada.

Here are the general guidelines for charging an EV:

  • Charging battery to 80 percent whenever possible to maximize battery range and life;
  • Keeping battery at least 20 percent charged at all times to minimize degradation;
  • Using fast chargers only when necessary;
  • Installing a special charging outlet at home for faster charging; and
  • Considering features such as a long charging cable and certification from safety organizations.

LEVELS OF CHARGERS:

Source: electricvehicles.bchydro.com

There are three types of chargers:

  • Level 1 Type of Chargers (120V AC):  The most basic method of charging is Level 1, but it also takes the longest because the vehicle must convert the AC power into DC power before it can be stored in the battery. This makes it better suited for plug-in hybrids, such as the Prius Prime, and other vehicles with smaller batteries. The good news is that it can be powered by the regular electrical outlets you already have in your home and garage.
Source: desertcart.jp
  • Level 2 Type of Chargers (240V AC):  The difference between Level 2 (240V AC) and Level 1 is primarily in the voltage and amperage. Having a Level 2 charger installed into higher-voltage electrical outlets, such as those powering clothes dryers or ovens, allows vehicles to charge much faster. While this is a significant improvement over Level 1 charging, the AC power must still be converted to DC by the vehicle’s onboard charger. The same SAE J1772 plug can be used for either private or public Level 2 charging. However, the hardware at charging stations will be strengthened to withstand the higher power.
Source: zencar.net
Source: zencar.net
  • Level 3 Type of Chargers (480V DC):  Charging at Level 3 (480V DC), also known as DC fast charging, supplies even more powerful DC power. This means that it can give power to the battery without having to convert it first. Level 3 devices are not typically found in residential areas and use different plug designs that are not compatible with every vehicle because of the higher voltages required to operate them. Many factors, including the weather, can affect how long it takes to fully charge.
Source: tigerelectric.com

It’s always nice to know that several businesses and organizations are offering free on-site charging for customers and employees.  For instance:

  • Charging for free while you shop;
  • Charging for free while checked in at a hotel;
  • Charging for free while attending school;
  • Charging for free while visiting a national park; and
  • Charging for free while watching a commercial.

Perhaps the best way to find a free EV charger is to download “Plugshare” application which happened to be handy for hunting down EV chargers across North America.

Canadians are now driving EVs in all parts of the country, from coast to coast to coast, from rural Canada to urban areas. Publicly available EV charging stations are being installed at an increasing rate to meet current and future demand in order to provide reliable, affordable, emission-free travel to all Canadians.

Fee-based charging options are available across North America. Most stations are run by EV charging network operators that provide electricity to EV owners for:

  • A time-based fee (charge per amount of time) billing;
  • A flat fee (charge per use, charge per month);
  • A fee based on the rate of charging (kilowatt-hours or kWh); and
  • A combination of the above options.

Time-based and flat fee billing methods are most commonly used in Canada and other countries, as they have allowed the EV charging infrastructure to grow quickly to support of EV adoption, while giving the industry time to develop and refine the technologies necessary for accurate and reliable measurement of kWh consumption at EV charging stations.

The following could be used as guidelines for calculating “Time-Based” charging charges in Canada:

ELECTRICITY PRICES IN CANADA 2023:

The average residential cost of electricity in Canada is $0.192 per kWh. This includes both fixed and variable costs and is based on an average monthly consumption of 1,000 kWh.

The average electricity cost decreases to $0.155 if you exclude the territories. Electricity costs in Canada have increased from $0.174 per kWh in 2020, and $0.135 if you exclude the territories.

Alberta25.8¢/kWh
British Columbia11.4¢/kWh
Manitoba10.2¢/kWh
New Brunswick13.9¢/kWh
Newfoundland & Labrador14.8¢/kWh
Nova Scotia18.3¢/kWh
Northwest Territories41.0¢/kWh
Nunavut35.4¢/kWh
Ontario14.1¢/kWh
Prince Edward Island18.4¢/kWh
Quebec7.8¢/kWh
Saskatchewan19.9¢/kWh
Yukon Territory18.7¢/kWh
Canada Average19.2¢/kWh
Source: energyhub.org

It’s worth noticing that for charging EVs, Quebec is the cheapest (7.8c/kWh) while Alberta is the most expensive province (25c/kWh) in Canada.

This is also true that calculating the cost of charging an EV, at home and on the road, can be complicated. Nevertheless, charging at home, often overnight, the cost per kilometre is virtually always cheaper than the cost of gasoline for a similar vehicle.

Hear is a fact – Health Canada analysis indicates that overall, emissions from all on-road vehicles contribute to an estimated 1,200 premature deaths and millions of cases of non-fatal health outcomes every year, at a total estimated economic cost of $9.5 billion annually

This should be a good enough reason for Canadians to consider switching from conventional to EVs subject to the condition that they can afford it.

Greely, Ontario, Canada 30 June 2024