A 10-step guide to owning an Electric Vehicle in Canada
If you are considering an electric vehicle as your next car, then you likely have a series of questions that you may not know how to approach. Researching online is a great start, but you may also have concerns that are specific to your life. Below is a list of 10 key points that address common concerns with a different perspective. With the knowledge that I’ve accumulated working in the automotive industry for the past ten years, and as an EV owner myself, I hope that this list can help you tackle your personal reservations about EVs with more confidence. To guide you through this list, you may want to familiarize yourself with some related terminology by reading my previous blog post called EV 101. The advice that I am sharing here is what I share with my friends and family when they ask me about buying a car. You are all my friends, and if I’m repeating myself, it’s only because I love you and this how I speak to my friends and family.
Let’s get you to your electric vehicle.
1. RANGE: The electric range on the vehicle you are considering is critical. Think about your daily commute and how many kilometers you drive each day. Perhaps you take public transportation to work every day, and you only use your car on the weekends. Or maybe you drive a lot during the week but not at all on the weekends. Everyone’s driving routine is different and unique to their lifestyle. There are vehicle models that would be better suited for some more than others. Take the time to explore the available EV models. For example, the Chevrolet Bolt has a total range of 383km vs the Hyundai Kona Electric that has 415km. Considering the size and price of each model, which one would best suite your daily driving routine?
- Manufacturer websites
2. CHARGING: Once you’ve narrowed down your car options, you’ll need to think about charging options. If you live in a home with a private driveway or garage, then you can install a charger and never have to think about “filling up” your car. Simply plug in your vehicle when you are done for the day and let it charge overnight. Every morning, you’ll have access to a fully recharged vehicle. If you live in a condo, there are options as well. You may need to speak with your condo corporation and find out what you are allowed to do in your parking space or if installing a communal charger is an option. New condos and townhomes are developed with the provisions to connect a charger in the individual’s parking spot. If you don’t have access to a charger at home (like myself) then find out if you can charge at your place of work (ask about the possibility of getting a charger installed) or find public charging stations in your area.
- Plug’N Drive– (Home charging, Public Charing, Condo Charging, Work Place)
3. NEW or PRE-OWNED: If you’re comfortable with a new car price tag, then you can take advantage of stress-free factors like a new warranty and dealership services. As manufacturers start to produce more EVs and the number of these increase on the road, there will also be more pre-owned options to choose from. Vehicles that were leased four or five years ago are returning to dealers and coming back into the buying market. Pre-owned models can offer just as much for a lower price tag. EV owners typically take good care of their vehicles, and they likely upgraded to a new model year, making their previous vehicle available to someone else. Confirm the warranty that is left-over on the car and inquire about an extended warranty. There are typically more financing options to choose from on pre-owned vehicles. If price is a factor, I would highly recommend considering a pre-owned electric vehicle. Buying a pre-owned vehicle is another way of re-using and recycling.
You may also wish to refer to my previous blog post specifically about shopping for a pre-owned vehicle.
4. LEASE or BUY: Driving habits are changing fast and soon enough, owning a car will be a luxury rather than a necessity. This may sound odd but try to think about how you WANT to live your life in the next five years before deciding on leasing or buying a car. Do you want to continue driving to work? Do you plan to move out of the city? Do you intend to work from home? My advice in the past has always been the same - if you intend to own the vehicle for over six years, you should buy the car. Otherwise, lease a new vehicle or finance a pre-owned. Now, I’m challenging you to think deeper on this. Vehicles are another commodity that we use, and leasing promotes this consuming and “returning” habit. With public transportation moving towards electrification and advances in charging infrastructure, you may want to consider buying an electric car, taking excellent care of it and keeping it for an extended period of time.
5. INCENTIVES: Depending on where you live, there may be federal and provincial incentives to encourage you to pull the trigger on your next electric car. Do your research and take advantage of this support. These incentives are to encourage new driving habits in our communities (So that you can keep up with the Jetsons who drive an electric car next door). Once electric vehicles are more popular, these incentives will not be available any longer. There are also incentives on chargers and installations.
6. INSURANCE: Many factors determine insurance rates. Some are generalized factors that depend on a lifestyle category. For example, insurance rates increase when a teenager is behind the wheel because they are assumed to be inexperienced (rates are even higher for males). At the moment, insurance companies assume that if you own an electric car, you’re a middle-aged scientist who wears cardigans, never swears and has a perfect driving record. Of course I am joking with this stereotype, but electric vehicles do qualify for lower insurance rates. Ask other providers about their rates. In Ontario, you will be able to save a few extra dollars on insurance if you are part of the EV Society. I assume other provinces offer similar benefits. I could be wrong, of course, and just making an ass of me (U are perfect).
7. WARRANTY: Unlike gas cars, electric vehicles have fewer moving parts, and the warranty importance shifts from the engine to the battery and software. The technology on EV’s is more advanced, and I would inquire about the warranty on that more than anything else. Does the warranty cover parts and labour rates? I’ve written about what kind of warranty-related questions to ask when purchasing a pre-owned vehicle . It’s important to know what the warranty covers so that you can be prepared when something does happen.
8. MAINTENANCE: Less mechanical parts on the car, means less maintenance. No engine means no oil changes and more savings. BUT, as mentioned earlier in point number 4, taking care of your vehicle is key so that it lasts longer. Taking the car for an annual check-up is a good idea. Maintenance in Canada also means winterizing. Investing in a set of winter tires will keep other drivers and your family safe on the road. It will also extend the life of your summer tires and winter tires as you rotate them throughout the year. Winterizing also means getting rubber mats for your car and keeping them clean, so they don’t stain the carpet underneath. All in effort to keep the vehicle well-kept to last longer.
9. UTILITY: If you are going to set up a charger where you live, then you should contact your utility company to give them a heads up. Ask them about incentives they may be offering to new EV owners and charging rebates they may have for you. Inquire about their time of use rates, important to know so that you can schedule your car to start charging during the off-peak times and save money.
10. SHARING: Be ready to enjoy your new electric vehicle and all the new ways that it will change the way you think about driving. People may approach you randomly in the parking lot and ask you questions. Be open to these conversations and sharing your personal experiences. Be honest with your responses and guide them in ways that you think would be helpful to you. EV information at the dealership level is still progressing, and no amount of data and facts speaks as loudly as personal experiences.
If you’re considering an electric vehicle as your next car, then you’re already on the right path. Be open to new experiences and a new way of driving. Be open to learning new things, improving your lifestyle, and meeting new people along the way. Owning an electric vehicle can be a big decision, but it can also be one that leads you to new adventures. I hope that you make the leap and that you look back and wonder why you didn’t make the switch sooner.
I would love to hear your personal concerns in your EV buying process. Let me know if this list was helpful to you. You can send questions in the comments below or hit me on Twitter at @ani_sehand join the conversation with other enthusiastic EV owners.