By B.F. NAGY
Electric vehicle sales have exploded in North America. In 2018 we bought about 400,000 in Canada and the USA.
For a couple of years sales were growing by more than 25 per cent, then in 2017 and 2018 they blew past 100 per cent annual growth.
The people who sell modern-day cars seem different. They no longer wear wide ties, talk fast, or engage in elabourate negotiations. Bill Pollock, a Delivery Experience Specialist at Tesla Canada is also a technologist, an inventor, actor, musician, and former director for an online ethical startup company. He and his wife Susan live in Leslieville with their dog Molly. Mild mannered and more like a professor, Bill educates people about all different brands of electric cars (EVs).
Tesla doesn’t call its facilities, like the one on Lawrence Avenue near the DVP, ‘dealers.’ They call them stores. People go there for test drives, but staff are less likely to pressure you to buy, because they’re not on commission.
Most people place their actual order online. You can also buy one from inventory on the lot and get it within days. Custom orders are now down to 12-16 weeks in Toronto.
MYTH – ELECTRIC CAR COST
Because some provinces offer incentives (now scrapped in Ontario), most people don’t realize that even without them, electric cars are competitively priced.
A 2019 Nissan Leaf starts at about $36k and will take you more than 350 km on a single charge (2019 model). Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt are perhaps higher quality, with similar range, and they start at about $45k.
But you shouldn’t compare the purchase price of an electric to a gas car, without comparing operating costs. “If you charge at home during off hours 60 kWh costs about $3.60. That will take you about 300 km,” said Pollock.
This saves most drivers 75- 80 per cent on fuel. “And you will also save about 80 per cent on maintenance,” he said.
Teslas have the best safety rating of any car. “Most EVs are safer because there is a mass of metal laying low in the car, mitigating impact and virtually eliminating roll-overs.” said Pollock.
Despite this, at the moment, insurance companies still charge about the same for electric and gas cars.
MYTH – COLD WEATHER PERFORMANCE
Pollock said new technology now ensures good battery performance and long life (eight year warranty) even in freezing Toronto.
But he acknowledges that extreme weather sometimes leads to drivers using climate controls more, reducing single-charge range. He added that, “Judicious use of heated seats and steering wheels can mitigate this.”
THOUSANDS OF PLACES TO CHARGE UP
Although 90 per cent of charging takes place at home, people still worry about long trips.
As of September 2018, there were about 22,000 public fast charging stations in the United States and Canada (100-130 km in 20 mins). Thousands more are being added quickly now by governments on highways, and by private companies in parking lots.
“Climate change may be the most important thing that not enough people in power are thinking about,” said Pollock.
“Our customers like saving money on fuel and maintenance, and lately they’ve been volunteering how happy they are to not be contributing to greenhouse gas.”
B.F. Nagy is a long time Beach resident and author of The Clean Energy Age. He has interviewed more than 700 experts and written 150 articles on clean energy. The Clean Energy Age is available online, from your favourite bookseller or bfnagy.com. It contains solutions, priorities, success stories and a dozen top 10 lists of climate actions for homeowners, business managers, and others.