Stories & features

Electric vehicles going farther, changing the game

Electric car adoption rises as cars improve, charging stations added

The fear that you might run out of electricity on the road, so-called "range anxiety", is starting to disappear as automakers introduce electric vehicles that go farther between charges or offer hybrids with gasoline backup.

Add to that the dramatic rise in the number of public charging stations in B.C., where electricity is clean and affordable, and we'll soon be seeing a lot more "EVs" on the road. There are now close to 1,000 Level 2 chargers across B.C. – stations that will charge most vehicles in less than five hours. And there will soon be 27 BC Hydro-installed DC fast chargers that will do that same job in less than 30 minutes.

Of course, the vast majority of electric vehicle charging occurs at home or at work, where owners are charged at affordable BC Hydro rates. For example, it takes about $3 to charge a Nissan Leaf for 100 km of travel.

BC Hydro supports the adoption of electric vehicles as part of the BC Government's Climate Leadership Plan that calls for a reduction of net annual greenhouse gas emissions of up to 25 million tonnes below the current forecasts for 2050. BC Hydro's electricity fits that plan because it's clean – BC Hydro's generation was 98% clean in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2016 – and makes the switch from gas-powered to electric vehicles a weapon in the fight against CO2 emissions.

About our electric vehicle range infographic

See below a visual comparison of how far the most popular electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles now available in B.C. will go between charges, and/or fill-ups for those hybrids supplemented by gas power. While most electric vehicles are used primarily for short trips around town, the infographic shows each car's range in the context of a journey east from Vancouver, through to Calgary.

As things stand today, that Vancouver-to-Calgary trip is only practical — without very long stops for charging — for plug-in hybrids and the Tesla S. The long section between Revelstoke and Calgary offers only two fast-charge options, and they're both Tesla-only Superchargers, in Golden and Canmore.

Expect some big changes in the next year as automakers trot out new models with dramatically increased electric range.

"2017 seems to be the next big step, call it the next generation of EV," says BC Hydro's Alec Tsang. "GM's got their Bolt coming out, promising 300 kilometres plus, and there's the Tesla Model 3. But the Nissan Leaf will also have a new model, with a much improved range, probably quite competitive with the Bolt. It will be a telling year to see, once the range is there, to see how vehicle sales take off."

Infographic showing comparison of electric vehicle ranges