Fully Charged LIVE Canada show pulls no punches
EV test drives, clean energy panels and lots of fun
You know you're at a show like no other when hundreds gather for 30-minute panel discussions on the likes of heat pumps, greenwashing, and everything you need to know about e-bikes.
Or when a group clad in red-black plaid mac jackets are treated like rock stars as they help wide-eyed attendees climb into the cab of a logging truck that's been converted to electric.
Or when several panelists, in a discussion called 'Which car companies could end up in an electric graveyard?', point the finger at the likes of Toyota, Honda, and Mazda for resisting the uptake to electric.
"It's important that we stay authentic," says Fully Charged CEO Dan Caesar, at the close of the three-day Fully Charged LIVE Canada EV and clean technology show at the Vancouver Convention Centre. "So we do say stuff that's unbiased, and which sometimes gets us in trouble. We say too much, but it's quite liberating to be able to do that. And people love it – it's really, really powerful."
Caesar was quick to acknowledge that as lead sponsor, BC Hydro was pivotal in bringing the show to Vancouver for the first time. And while the contracts had yet to be signed, he was confident that the show will be back in Vancouver again in 2024.
That will come as great news to the thousands who attended the inaugural Canadian event, the 11th live event that the U.K.-based Fully Charged crew – whose reputation has been built by their popular YouTube channel – has held across the world, from England, to the U.S., to Australia. Many discovered on the weekend that sleek, electric cars and home energy technology can co-exist.
Caesar says he was wowed by just how many people came from great distances to attend the show.
"I spoke to several people who came from the Yukon – and I had to look that up on a map to see just how far away that was," says Caesar, with a laugh. "We've had people drive up from Amarillo, Texas, and others from Ireland. I'm also really impressed with how many car companies managed to get to this show. That can be difficult in year one in a new city. Hats off to people in the Canadian automotive market who seem to realize there's a big opportunity coming."
'There are 120,000 electric vehicles in B.C.'
In the show's opening keynote address, Fully Charged founder Robert Llewellyn said the first thing he noticed when he landed in Vancouver last week is that the city was "just Tesla-tastic", with even more EVs on the road than when he visited a year earlier.
Sitting alongside Lllewellyn and Hon. Josie Osborne, B.C.'s Minister of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation, our President and CEO Chris O'Riley confirmed that EV sales numbers were taking off.
"There are now 120,000 electric vehicles in B.C., and we're approaching 20% of new car sales," said O'Riley, his comment greeted by vigorous applause from the audience of true believers. Fully Charged says about 50% of the people who attend its LIVE shows already own EVs, and the bulk of the remainder are seriously looking at buying one in a year or two.
Osborne counts herself among the newest EV owners in the province. She reported that she had just bought an EV three weeks ago, and that she was happy to be part of B.C.'s drive to electrify.
"I've now had the experience of driving past a gas station and just waving," said Osborne. "Forty per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia come from transportation. So being able to help people make that choice to ditch their fossil fuel cars and switch to electric vehicles is real exciting. We're so blessed to have an abundance of clean electricity in B.C."
BC Hydro announces plans for superfast 180-kilowatt chargers
Day one of the show was barely underway when we confirmed we're adding new 180-kilowatt chargers to fast-charging stations at several locations across B.C.
Our charging network currently has 153 charging units at 84 locations, but there are plans to add 3,000 ports over the next 10 years. And while the first wave of our fast-charging stations was populated mainly by 50-kilowatt chargers, the new 180-kilowatt chargers promise to add as much as 180 kilometres of range to many EVs in 10 minutes.
Some of those chargers will be added as early as this fall, with the first communities on the list to include Surrey, Manning Park, Mackenzie, and Tumbler Ridge.
Fave Five electric vehicles for 2023? You may be surprised
One of the most anticipated sessions at Fully Charged LIVE Canada featured a panel of four car reviewers asked to come up with what they think are the 2023 model electric vehicles that offer the best value. Here's what the panel came up with:
Hyundai Ioniq 6 tops the list
Regina Chan, founder of AutoNerve media is a World Car Awards juror, and she stuck to the Hyundai Ioniq 6 as her pick. Winner of three World Car awards – best design, best electric, and car of the year – the Ioniq struck all panelists as a sleek sedan alternative to the excellent Ioniq 5.
Host Scarlett said Hyundai and Kia represent the best version of the transition to EVs done right, and McCredie concurred. "I think the South Korean's electric architecture and charging is, for the money, the best," he said.
The Hyundai Ioniq 6 starts at $55,000 for the base model with 581 km of range. The much quicker all-wheel drive options sacrifice some range, but offer a zero to 100 kmh time of 5.1 seconds.
Next up: The Kia EV9
Kia's bigger SUV, featuring a third row of seating, was next on the pick list.
Chan said that, as a smaller person, she appreciated the Kia EV9's power steering system as she test drove the 2023 model through a series of small villages in Korea. "As a short female, I found it very, very easy to drive," she said.
"When you drive it, it's so well-balanced – with the battery in the floor you get a low centre of gravity," said McCredie. "When you drive it, then get out, only then do you realize how big it is. Bigger SUVs are a big market here in Canada. So it's nice to see that there's now an option for people to buy an electric vehicle that has three rows."
Expected to be available in Canada by the end of the year, pricing on the EV9 is not yet available, and Kia says the range on some models will exceed 500 km.
Nissan Ariya earns a spot on the list
"Nissan really stepped up with this product," said Boker. "It's got all the right stuff technology wise, and it's roomy. The design language, with this zen approach, makes for a calming interior. It's very welcoming, a good size, capable, and all-around, is a really good product. I'd recommend it for anyone looking at that mid-size for five passengers."
The Ariya Engage starts at $53,000 and offers a range of up to 348 km.
Affordable Kia Niro EV comes in at No. 4
"It was my 2019 pick of the year because of the overall value you get in the Niro," said Boker. "It's not too big, not too small, with good range. And they've stepped up to make this year's model even better."
Chan noted that the Niro EV was also the Women's World Car of the year. "It's perfect for people living in the city," she said. "It's the right size, is easy to drive, and it's the fourth generation of EV from Kia. Other manufacturers are playing catch-up."
The Niro EV Premium model starts at $45,000 and offers 407 km of range.
And No. 5 (with a caveat), the Lexus RZ 450E
Chan proposed the Lexus – which shares a platform with Toyota's BZ4X – as a high-quality great luxury option from a company (Toyota) that has not exactly embraced EVs.
"I drove it in southern France, and it's not very heavy, and easy to manoeuvre," she said. "I think it's the perfect size for a luxury SUV."
Others on the panel were more reserved in their assessment of the Lexus RZ, which has limited range and has some fast-charging limitations.
"They have good range and decent charging," said Boker. "Yes it could be better, but there are use cases where this works, people who just want a nice ride, a nice solid vehicle to drive. We all know that Toyota is conservative company, so they don't want to stress their batteries. They want it wired and be careful with the technology so that it lasts forever."
The Lexus RZ 450E offers between 315 and 354 km in range, and starts at $65,000.