Detailed Information

In addition to the information provided below, you can also obtain personalized advice for your particular situation. Details here.

Electric Driving Range Purchase Cost Operating Cost Home Charging The Environment Vehicles Dealers
Image Nissan Leaf

The Electric Driving Experience

  • Electric vehicles are very quiet and without the vibration generated by a gas engine. The result is a feeling of floating along in silence. If you like listening to music, then you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better it sounds.

  • Because the vehicle makes no noise, there is a danger to pedestrians used to hearing gas engine vehicles coming their way. Therefore electric vehicles generally emit a soft artificial sound when travelling under 25 km per hour as well as a beeping sound when moving in reverse.

  • There are no gears or transmission. When you are stopped, the engine is stopped - no engine idling using up fuel and creating noise and vibration. Without gear changing, acceleration is rapid enough to push you back in your seat.

  • Most electric vehicles can cruise comfortably at highway speeds — silently.

  • For those wanting to try out the electric vehicle experience for a few days, the car rental agency EV Rentals, located in Richmond, rents the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model S100D, Model X100D, Model 3 and Model 3 Performance, all on our list of vehicles, and a couple of other plug-in hybrid vehicles. Plug-in Richmond members receive a 5% discount.

Image Tesla Model S

Range Required for Daily Combined City/Highway Driving

  • Most Richmond residents probably drive an average of 30 km per day. However, they would like to be able to drive an electric vehicle 80 km without recharging. The distance from Richmond Centre to Canada Place in downtown Vancouver is 16 km. Two return trips downtown in one day with an extra margin for safety would be 80 km, well within the range of the electric vehicles listed here.

  • Most owners charge their electric vehicles overnight at home. When the return trip exceeds the range of the vehicle, owners want to recharge the vehicle at the destination in less than an hour for the trip home. This requires an electric vehicle with Level 3 charging capability and a Level 3 public charging station at the destination which can usually recharge the battery to 80% capacity in a half hour. While a rapidly increasing number of Level 3 charging stations are being installed, Level 2 charging is more widely available and takes about 4 hours for most electric vehicles with a fully depleted battery.

Range Required for Longer Highway Trips

  • The EPA combined city/highway electric range rating shown in the vehicle listing is reduced for highway only driving at 110 km/h by about 15%. Climbing mountains also reduces range although about 70% is recovered when descending through regenerative braking.

  • The common recommendation is to stop for at least 15 minutes to stretch every two hours of driving whether the vehicle needs refuelling or not. Level 3 recharging to 80% battery capacity takes a half hour or less. Recharging slows down significantly for the remaining 20% so most drivers charge to 80%.

  • Assuming a two hour driving time over flat terrain at 110 km/h, 85% of the EPA combined city/highway range and only using 80% of the battery capacity results in a required EPA combined city/highway range as shown in the vehicle listing of 363 km. A three hour driving time would increase the required range as shown in the listing to 525 km. As explained below, climbing mountains extra battery capacity, but these amounts of range are adequate to reach Seattle, Whistler and Hope without recharging.

  • The chart below shows the average adjusted electric range required for typical destinations from Richmond by increasing the actual distance from Richmond to account for a highway speed of 110 km/h and the total mountain climbing and descent. An additional 5% cushion has also been added to allow for individual vehicle variation from the average and a reserve. Some drivers may want a larger reserve. The adjusted electric range required for a particular destination can be directly compared to the EPA electric range ratings in the vehicle listing. See the note below the chart for an explanation of the range calculations.

  • No reduction in range is included in the chart for use of the vehicle's heating and air conditioning systems and loss of battery efficiency outside the ideal outside operating temperature of 15-25°C. Use of these systems and loss of battery efficiency will reduce range on average by 10% for an outside temperature of 5°C or 30°C.

  • There are level 3 charging facilities in Hope that in 40 minutes or less can recharge the 206 km of range used in getting to Hope. The range requirements from Hope to Merritt, Kamloops and Kelowna are shown for vehicles with batteries large enough to reach these destinations without further recharging.

Destinations from Richmond Required Range to Destination Required Range Return Trip Actual Distance Total Climb Total Descent
White Rock   52 km   52 km   40 km    213 m    213 m
Bellingham 103 km 103 km   78 km    636 m    636 m
Seattle 288 km 288 km 220 km 1,555 m 1,555 m
Sechelt   97 km   97 km   75 km    925 m    925 m
Squamish 103 km 103 km   80 km    905 m    905 m
Whistler 199 km 183 km 136 km 1,941 m 1,275 m
Langley   58 km   58 km   45 km    197 m    191 m
Abbotsford 105 km 104 km   80 km    456 m    418 m
Hope 206 km 205 km 160 km    690 m    649 m

Destinations from Hope Required Range to Destination Required Range Return Trip Actual Distance Total Climb Total Descent
Merritt 180 km 166 km 120 km 1,549 m    944 m
Kamloops 305 km 297 km 215 km 2,952 m 2,628 m
Kelowna 341 km 333 km 240 km 3,423 m 3,080 m

Note: As a rough guide, the EPA equivalent range for highway only driving at 100 kilometers per hour (km/h) is 90% of the electric range shown in the vehicle listing. This drops to 85% for highway driving at 110 km/h. Above that speed, tire size, headwinds, weight of occupants, open windows and aerodynamic design influence range, but it is generally 75-80% at 120 km/h. Vehicles with all-wheel-drive dual motors achieve 80-85% at 120 km/h by turning off one of the motors until it is needed for acceleration. Mountain terrain reduces a vehicle’s range by about 10 km for every 300 m of climb in elevation. Regenerative braking will recover about 7 km of range for every 300 m of descent. Note that if the vehicle has a full battery at the mountain top, it will not be able to absorb the power from regenerative braking on the way down.

Image BMW i3

Purchase Cost

  • Electric vehicles are more expensive to purchase, but less expensive to operate. The higher purchase cost can be recovered in as little as 4 years. See Operating Cost below.

  • Many of the fully electric vehicles with a range of about 350 km have a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $45,000 before rebates and taxes. The least expensive model with a 500 km range is the Tesla Model 3 long range at under $65,000.

    The complete vehicle list is here. With the exception of the Teslas, the MSRP is a starting point for negotiation as it is with most gas engine vehicles.

  • There is a Federal Government rebate of $5,000 after tax for the purchase of a plug-in electric vehicle with a battery size of 15 kWh or larger and $2,500 if the battery is smaller. That rebate has not been deducted from the MSRP shown on the list. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the base model must be under $45,000 before delivery charges for vehicles with 6 seats or fewer and under $55,000 for vehicles with 7 seats or greater. More expensive trim models must not exceed $55,000 and $60,000 respectively. Details here.

  • With the exception of vehicles with a MSRP over $55,000 (Audi, Jaguar and most Tesla models), all of the vehicles on the list with an electric range of 85 km or more qualify for an additional $3,000 after tax BC Government rebate. Those rebates have not been deducted from the MSRP shown on the list. The vehicle dealer will deduct it at time of purchase and claim it from the Government.

  • If you are scrapping a gas engine vehicle and purchasing a designated electric vehicle from an authorized dealer at the same time, there are incentives offered by BC SCRAP-IT. The incentive is $6,000 if a new electric vehicle is purchased and $3,000 if it is used. The incentives are allocated to each participating dealer and the regulations required that you first get the dealer to assign an incentive to your electric vehicle order and then apply to BC SCRAP-IT once the dealer has the vehicle available for delivery.

  • As with gas engine vehicles, purchase cost negotiation varies greatly depending on the individual purchaser, the dealer and the particular day. It is usually best to first obtain a quote including all desired accessories, extras and tax. From this total, the BC Government rebate and the manufacturer's rebate, if any, are deducted. The dealer can then be asked what additional discount can be offered. The purchaser can then offer somewhat less and see what happens. In many cases, the dealer is anxious to show a high sales figure for each month and is more inclined to offer additional discounts near the end of the month rather than at the beginning.

  • Assuming that a home charging station is being installed, the cost should be added to the purchase cost of the vehicle. See below.

  • Used electric vehicles, particularly the Nissan Leaf 2015 - 2017, are available for under $20,000. There are links to used electric vehicle sources on our Dealers page.


Operating Cost

  • The savings in operating cost comes from both the lower cost of electricity compared to gas and the lower maintenance cost due to the far lesser number of moving parts and fluids. The savings on gas are shown in the above chart. A Nissan Leaf driving 15,000 km per year would save over $1,400 annually on gas over a Honda Civic. According to the Canadian Automobile Association, the savings on maintenance would be at least $500 per year for the first 5 years and significantly more than that in the years following.

    The Nissan Leaf also receives both the BC $3,000 purchase incentive and the $5,000 federal incentive. The total savings for the first 5 years would therefore be $17,500. There would be an additional $6,000 for scrapping a gas engine vehicle.

  • A typical new electric vehicle warranty guarantees that the battery's capacity will not drop below 70% in the first 8 years or 160,000 km. Aside from defective batteries replaced under warranty, replacement of a battery is extremely rare. Consumer Reports estimates that most batteries will last on average 17 years and 320,000 km (18,800 km per year) which is generally the life of the vehicle. Tesla batteries taken from taxis driven that far still have a capacity exceeding 85%. Any battery refurbishment cost would be offset by the considerable savings on maintenance over the life of the vehicle.

  • There is very little maintenance required since there are neither oil changes nor engine, transmission and exhaust system issues. The electric motor is used to slow the vehicle through regenerative braking and the brakes only bring it to a full stop. With so little use, brake pads are generally expected to last 150,000 km. Regenerative braking also has the advantage of charging the battery while the vehicle is slowing.

Image Sun Country Highway Charging Station

Home Charging

Additional information on home charging for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs) is available here.

  • All electric vehicles can be recharged using a standard 120V electrical outlet (level 1 charging), but it will usually take too long for convenient use at home and will only be used elsewhere when no other option is available. A 120V recharging cable is supplied with the vehicle.

  • Most owners prefer to cut the recharging time dramatically by installing a 240V outlet (level 2 charging) in their garage or carport.

    Tesla vehicles, the Nissan Leaf PLUS and Audi e-tron are supplied with a recharging cable that will plug directly into the 240V outlet and the charger in the vehicle is 240V fault tolerant allowing for safe charging.

    Other vehicles require an external charging station (also called an EVSE) mounted on the garage wall that provides the fault tolerance and has a cable that connects to the charger in the vehicle. A charging station with a maximum current around 30 amps will accommodate vehicles with a 7.4 kW or 6.6 kW charger while those with a maximum current around 16 amps will only allow for 3.3 kW, doubling the charging time. The vehicles on the list of electric vehicles have 7.4 kW or 6.6 kW chargers.

  • It is important to verify that there is sufficient power available in the home. A charging station with a maximum current around 30 amps will require a 40 amp circuit breaker in the electrical panel. If there is only 100 amps available in the electrical panel and the home uses an electric stove, electric clothes dryer and/or electric water heater, then it may be necessary to use a 16 amp charging station on a 20 amp circuit breaker or install a device which cuts power to the charging station when necessary. The cost of such devices is in the $1,000 range which should be compared to the cost of increasing the size of the power entrance to the home.

    One device is an electrical load switch, such as the Load Miser, that allows the charging station and an appliance like a stove to share one circuit. Power to the charging station is cut if the stove is turned on. This can work well, especially if the vehicle charging takes place overnight.

    The NeoCharge Dual-Car Smart Splitter costs $750 and allows you to run two level 2 chargers from one 240V outlet. It automatically switches to the second vehicle when the first vehicle has finished charging. If the chargers can be set to consume half the available current then it will charge both vehicles simultaneously. There is another version of the device that will share the outlet with an appliance rather than a second vehicle.

    Another device is an energy management system, such as the Thermolec DCC-10, that monitors the total power consumption of the home and cuts power to the charging station when it gets too high and then restores power to the charging station when there is sufficient power available.

  • The list of electric vehicles shows which vehicles have Level 3 DC fast charging capability at 400V and higher that can recharge most vehicles to at least 80% of capacity in around a half hour. This is beyond the capability of home charging stations and requires a public station with direct access to the electrical grid. Level 3 charging stations are not yet widely available. There are three types of level 3 charging connectors: Tesla Supercharger, CHAdeMO used by the Japanese manufacturers and SAE Combo (also known as CCS) used by U.S. and German manufacturers.

  • Most electric vehicles can be programmed to charge in the middle of the night when demand on the electric grid is very low making surplus power available. For this reason, we are encouraging governments to put more funding into home charging rather than public charging which is mostly done during the day.

  • The BC Government incentive for the installation of a home charging station in single family dwellings is 50% of the cost to a maximum of $700. Single family homes include duplexes and townhouses where the residence has a dedicated adjacent parking space. The charging station must have been purchased and installed between September 26, 2019 and February 28, 2021. The application for reimbursement must be submitted within 90 days after installation and by February 28, 2021 or earlier if funding runs out.

    Note that Tesla vehicles, the Nissan Leaf PLUS and Audi e-tron have the charger circuitry built into the vehicle and only require a 220V outlet. The installation of only an electrical outlet in a single family home is not eligible for reimbursement.

    A detailed description of the program is available here. BC Hydro is administering the reimbursement process on behalf of the government. The reimbursement form and procedures are available here. Information on the BC Government charging incentive for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURBs) and workplaces is available here.

  • The cost of a home 240V charging station can vary widely. Expensive models with internet connectivity for remote monitoring may stop charging if connectivity is lost. Most electric vehicles come with smartphone software that remotely monitors charging through the vehicle rather than the charging station. Charging stations that require hard wiring to the electrical panel rather than a plug to a 240V outlet can be costly to relocate if you move. Although hardwiring may be necessary in an outside location open to the elements, some plug-in models are weatherproof and use a 240V outlet in a weatherproof housing. The 30 amp plug-in charging station manufacturers mentioned below also sell hardwired models and/or models with lower and higher amperage ratings.

  • The FLO 30 amp plug-in Home G5 is available from Amazon for $995.

  • Costco sells the Sun Country Highway 32 amp plug-in EV40P (made by Clipper Creek) (Item #1047148) for $899.99. Costco also sells the Sun Country Highway 20 amp plug-in SCH25P (made by Clipper Creek) (Item #1047159) for $749.99.

  • The Chargepoint 32 amp plug-in CPH25-L18-P with 18 ft. cable instead of 25 ft. sells on line in Canada for $799.

  • If a hardwired model is required, there are many more to choose from in addition to the hardwired versions of the above charging stations. BMW sells its own charging station with installation.

  • Recent quotations for installation by a professional electrician in a garage not far from the electrical panel: labour $375, materials $150 - $200, permit $55 - $95 for a total cost of $580 - $670 plus GST. Get several quotes. We can recommend an installation electrician if you send an Information Request below.


The Environment

  • For those interested in reducing their household's direct greenhouse gas emissions, switching to an electric vehicle has by far the greatest impact. BC Government statistics show that household vehicle use accounts for 44.6% of household GHG emissions while household space heating and cooling is responsible for 16.6% and water heating for 8%. Air travel accounts for 13.1%; bus and rail for 2.4%. Even using a gas engine vehicle 20% of the time for longer trips would still save 35.7% of of household GHG emissions by switching to an electric vehicle for daily travel.

  • According to a 2014 City of Richmond Report, personal automobile use in Richmond contributes 41% of community greenhouse gas emissions. According to the BC Government, new 2015 model gas engine vehicles emit about 3 tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) annually. Electric vehicles emit none.

  • In some jurisdictions, electricity is generated using coal or other fossil fuels which generate GHG and lower somewhat the reduction in emissions from switching to electric vehicles. However in BC, our electricity is generated by hydro power which does not generate GHG and gives us the full benefit from using electric vehicles.

  • The disposal of motor oil used in gas engines and transmissions can harm the environment. Motor oil picks up a variety of hazardous contaminants including lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, dioxins, benzene and polycyclic aromatics. Electric vehicles do not require motor oil nor use toxic gas additives.

  • There is a detailed 2019 environmental impact report from Tesla on the lifecycle emissions of its vehicles and the manufacture, use and recycling of its batteries. Batteries with reduced capacity can be used in other energy storage applications or they can be ground up and over half of their components that are metals can be recycled into the manufacture of new batteries.