- Why is Manitoba encouraging the use of electric vehicles (EVs)?
EVs can meet the driving needs of many people. Compared to conventional vehicles, they are an environmentally-friendly choice (low or no emissions); they are economical to operate (much cheaper “fuel” and lower maintenance costs); and they offer high levels of comfort and convenience (reduced vehicle noise, plus charging at home). The benefits for Manitoba include lower greenhouse gas emissions and a reduced carbon footprint, decreased outflow of dollars from Manitoba’s economy to pay for imported fossil fuels, and reduced vulnerability to fossil fuel price volatility. By encouraging the shift to electrified transport, the government is positioning Manitoba to participate in the low-carbon economy of tomorrow.
- What is an electric vehicle?
A plug-in electric vehicle is propelled, at least in part, by an electric motor, connected to a battery that is energized by plugging into an external electrical supply (ex: household electric outlet). The defining characteristic is that the vehicle’s electrical energy comes from an external source – normally the electric grid – and is stored onboard in batteries. Different automakers offer different types of plug-in EVs. These include ones that operate solely on battery power, and ones that operate on battery power combined with an internal combustion engine (ICE).
- Are electric vehicles safe?
Electric vehicles developed by major automobile manufacturers meet the same safety standards expected of all vehicles on the road. To date, EVs have a very good safety record.
- Should I be concerned about the lifespan of the electric vehicle’s battery?
Eight-year battery warranties are being offered by some manufacturers, including GM (for the Volt) and Nissan (for the Leaf). There are no widespread reports of range degradation linked to the current generation of lithium-ion batteries. However, because the technology is fairly new, and public experience with the batteries relatively short, it’s too early to confirm what the lifespan of these batteries is likely to be.
- What should I consider before I buy an electric vehicle?
Electric vehicles are most practical in urban settings where drives to work, shopping centres and entertainment venues are relatively short. Potential buyers should consider their driving patterns to determine if an EV is a good fit. (At this time, extended road trips are not well supported by EV charging infrastructure.) If you’re planning routine, overnight, Level-1 charging at home, a 110V 15A standard household outlet must be located close to your driveway or in your garage. If faster charging is needed or desired, a Level 2 240V charging station must be purchased and installed, in compliance with applicable code requirements. It’s worth noting that, despite the current EV price premium, Manitoba’s low-cost electricity makes the long-term economics of owning an EV stronger here than in most jurisdictions.
- How far can I drive in an electric vehicle?
Electric vehicles can meet the driving needs of many people and are a practical alternative to conventional vehicles for normal driving requirements (most Canadians drive less than 50 kilometres [km] per day). Plug-in hybrids and extended-range EVs offer greater flexibility than battery-only EVs, as they can travel farther without needing to recharge. Driving range is generally 140 km to 180 km (depending on vehicle make and model), and is also affected by road conditions, driving habits, weight inside vehicle, and weather.
Extremely cold weather, typical of Manitoba’s winter season, will lower battery performance in EVs, making more frequent charging necessary. Nevertheless, local experience to date indicates EVs retain enough range to handle normal commuting distances, even in severe winter conditions. As well, cold weather performance can be significantly improved by plugging in for extended periods of time at destination points, such as workplaces.