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Electricity is in the air, and on the roads

Thomas Bennett
Thursday, January 28, 2016

Battery powered electric vehicles are a hot topic in British Columbia.

They have proved to be so popular that British Columbians have ‘burned’ through the B.C. Government’s $6.64 million incentive fund. The fund was expected to last until 2018, indicating that the demand for electric vehicles in B.C. is driven by more than those who are passionate about clean energy vehicles. With enough support from the public, B.C.'s Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett will refund the incentives program, so now is a great time to write in with support of the policy.

Battery Powered Electric Vehicles, or BEVs, are viewed by many as the future of transport, and with good reason too. While BEVs are more expensive in their initial purchase, their operating cost is only 20% of that of an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) counterpart. While you might spend $200 a month on gas, an electric car would cost only $40 in electricity. If you are able to handle the initial cost, the overall savings will eventually overtake the price difference.evgreen.jpg

 

BEVs have near enough instant torque, translating to incredibly fast acceleration. Combine this with a smooth (no vibration) and silent engine and you find yourself with a very enjoyable ride. To top it all off, BEVs are self-charging; when coasting downhill the electric motor converts to a generator and uses the car’s kinetic energy to charge the battery. This has the added benefit of braking the car, meaning that, as with all parts of an electric vehicle, the brake pads wear out far slower than an ICE vehicle’s. BEVs are at the very forefront of transportation technology, with the next advancements in automatic pilot and steering technology being pioneered by Tesla. Tesla cars also update their software remotely; meaning that overnight your car’s internal software can be updated. Your 2014 model can have all the software features of a 2016 model without ever leaving the garage.

 

evcharger.jpgThe issues that surround BEVs are largely to do with its charging infrastructure. What if you need to travel further than 50 kilometres and run out of charge? The fact of the matter is that the complete infrastructure is not available across all of B.C. yet, but it’s on its way. The B.C. government is committed to extending the number of chargers available across the province, adding 20 new DC (direct current) Quick Charging stations in the next 2 years. These installations will be sure to eliminate any ‘range anxiety’ BEV owners may currently feel.

 

In the meantime, it isn’t impossible to travel long distances in a BEV. In fact, with a miniscule amount of planning you can make a round trip across B.C. in a Tesla using the charging ports located in Hope, Kamloops, Revelstoke, Golden, Kelowna and Penticton, as well as the many Sun Country Highway Charging Stations located in B.C., all for free. In reality though, the majority of car owners in B.C. won’t travel more than 100 kilometres in a daily commute, meaning an electric vehicle is really the perfect choice for most urban and suburban residents.

 

Another issue raised by some is that a BEV’s ‘green footprint’ is undone by the process of its creation. The truth of the matter is that although the process by which a BEV is built of course has a carbon footprint (nothing doesn’t, yet), it is nothing compared to the process by which an ICE vehicle is built, the huge refining process that produces its fuel and ultimately, the car itself as it burns fossil fuels. Finally, an ICE vehicle is completely outstripped when a BEV is powered by a renewable energy source. As it so happens, B.C. is powered predominately by Hydro-electric, meaning that an electric vehicle makes up for its carbon footprint ‘debt’ almost immediately.

 

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To conclude, the future of transport in B.C. is electric. We are lucky enough to have an already established renewable power source and it is only a matter of time before the charging infrastructure catches up with the demand for electric vehicles. The B.C. government will, hopefully, step up to the plate to meet the public’s growing interest and demand, especially if it is to meet its 2050 zero-emissions pledge.

 

 

With great thanks to Bruce Stout, President of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, for his wealth of knowledge on Electric Vehicles and the state of affairs in B.C. Click here to learn more about the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association.

 

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